Trump declares national emergency to fund the wall

By Meg Wagner, Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha and Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 4:02 p.m. ET, February 15, 2019
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11:09 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump confirms: "I'm going to be signing a national emergency"

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

Speaking from the Rose Garden, President Trump confirmed he will declare a national emergency in order to secure funding to build a wall at the southern border.

He argued that his actions are consistent with those of his predecessors.

"I'm going to be signing a national emergency, and it’s been signed many times before. It’s been signed by other presidents from 1977 or so it gave the presidents the power," Trump said. "There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it, nobody cares. I guess they weren’t very exciting."

The President argued that he is doing so to address "an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs."

"We don’t control our own border," Trump said. "We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it – one way or the other we have to do it."

Trump went on to repeat his past talking points about "tremendous amounts of drugs" crossing into the US from the southern border -- even though the majority of those drugs come through ports of entry -- and addressed the issue of human trafficking.

He once again reiterated his claim that El Paso is safer because of the border fencing, despite statistics showing violent crime rates did not go down as a result of the construction of fencing there.

Watch the moment:

11:02 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump accuses Democrats of lying in "a big con game"

As Trump launched into his immigration speech at the Rose Garden, he pledged action against "the national security crisis on our southern border."

"We are going to do it one way or the other. We have to do it. Not just because it was a campaign promise -- which it is."

He then decried the "drugs flowing into our country" through the southern border, and accused Democrats of lying about drugs entering through ports of entry.

"When you look and when you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all through the port of entry. It's wrong. It's just a lie. It's all a lie. They say walls don't work. Walls work 100%," Trump said.

"They go through areas where you have no wall. Everybody knows that. Nancy knows it. Chuck knows it. They all know it. It's all a big lie. It's a big con game," he said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

Some context: In describing the effectiveness of the wall, Trump brought up El Paso, Texas, where he held a rally Monday night. He described the border town's crime rate decreasing since the construction of a border fence — a familiar but inaccurate claim. Violent crime had actually been falling a full decade before the fence was built.

10:50 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump starts immigration speech with non-immigration talking points

President Trump just began speaking at the White House. The White House said his remarks would be about "the National Security and Humanitarian Crisis on the Southern Border," and we're expecting Trump to declare a national emergency in order to fund his border wall.

But he started his speech by talking about a variety of other issues. Here's a look:

  • On US-China relations: "We are very much working very closely with China and President Xi, who I respect a lot — very good relationship that we have."
  • On US-UK relations: "The UK and the US, as you probably have been seeing and hearing, we are agreeing to go forward and preserve our trade agreement. You know all of the situation with respect to Brexit and the complexity and the problems." 
  • On Syria and ISIS: "We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate. And that will be announced over the next 24 hours and many other things."
  • On his upcoming summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un: "We are working on a summit. You know all about the summit. It will be in Vietnam — Hanoi. And we will be meeting in Hanoi."

10:40 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

White House: Trump is declaring a national emergency because Congress is "incapable" of funding the wall

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said President Donald Trump is declaring a national emergency because Congress is "simply incapable of providing the amount of money necessary in the President's eyes" to secure the southern border.

"We’ve been through a shutdown. We’ve now been through 3 weeks of allowing Congress to try and work their will and they’re simply incapable of providing the amount of money necessary in the President’s eyes to address the current situation at the border," Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney confirmed CNN's reporting from Thursday evening on the breakdown in the funding, with additional money being drawn from the Homeland Security appropriations bill, the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund and the Defense Department.

The latter requires the national emergency.

Mulvaney emphasized that the President will NOT be drawing on disaster relief funding for Texas or Puerto Rico.

While Trump initially planned to sign the funding bill during his Rose Garden event, Mulvaney said that is now scheduled to take place "probably later today or tomorrow" because the White House is still waiting to receive the bill from the Senate.

Mulvaney also rejected the argument that Trump's action sets a bad precedent by using his national emergency powers.

"It actually creates zero precedent," Mulvaney said, arguing Trump is using authority given to him by Congress. "This is authority given to the President in law already."

10:12 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Democratic leaders are discussing options on how to stop Trump's national emergency

From CNN's Manu Raju

House Democratic leaders plan to make it a top priority to try to approve a resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration, but they are still trying to sort out exactly how that plays out, per multiple sources involved in the discussions.

The Democrats are studying their various legislative options, and multiple committees will likely be involved, however the House Judiciary Committee might take the lead.

But they have time: The House is in recess next week, so they have some time to discuss their options before they return to session.

10:00 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump's national emergency can last for a year (unless he renews it)

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez and Mike Warren


President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency today in order to secure funding for his border wall.

National emergencies can last for one year and then terminate — unless the President renews the declaration 90 days prior, said Robert Chesney, who previously served in the Justice Department and teaches at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

But Chesney noted: "Here, even with no renewal, of course the money already would have been reprogrammed—so renewal or termination don't much matter."

Then, every six months, Congress can consider whether to put forward a "joint resolution" to terminate the emergency. 

Here's how the "joint resolution" to end one would look like: Once the House passes the resolution, the Senate has 18 days to vote on it. Even if the Senate passes it, Trump can still override the resolution. And then Congress would have to be able to override his veto. 

10:39 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Why declaring a national emergency is such a big deal

From CNN's Michael Warren, Chris Cilliza, and Stephen Collinson

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has signaled to lawmakers that, though he will sign the compromise border security legislation, he also plans to declare a national emergency to secure funding for a border wall.

This would allow him to use money already allocated by Congress for other purposes.

Here's why that matters: If Trump moves forward with the national emergency, it may be a major constitutional breach. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution says that while the executive branch can ask for whatever it wants, it's up to Congress to decide where the money actually goes.

We already know that a national emergency will be legally challenged. House Democrats are expected to sue, and landowners along the border whose property is at risk of being seized to mount physical barriers could also file suit.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that declaring a national emergency would be a "lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency."

Legality aside, this decision also sets a potential precedent for future presidents to push their own agenda items -- imagine a Democratic president declaring a national emergency to fight climate change, or restrict gun ownership.

House Republicans have now been handed a political grenade. They are forced into either supporting a national emergency -- and its dangerous precedent -- or rebuking a Republican president still popular with the base on his signature issue.

9:31 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump's wall will be the US's 32nd active national emergency

From CNN's Ryan Struyk

President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency today, in order to reallocate money for a total of $8 billion in government money to fund the wall.

But it won't be the only active national emergency: In fact, there are 31 others currently in effect — and the oldest dates back to 1979.

Another 26 national emergencies have been declared and ended in that time period.

Here's a look at them:

9:19 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Here's where the government money for Trump's wall will come from

President Trump is expected to soon sign a compromise deal that will fund the government and avert another shutdown. But the deal will only provide $1.375 billion for border barriers — far short of what the President has asked for to build his long-promised border wall.

So Trump is expected to turn to executive action to secure another $8 billion in government money to fund the wall.

A White House official said Trump will both sign the funding bill and the paperwork for his executive actions, including the national emergency, at an event in the Rose Garden at 10 a.m. today.

That White House official said the funding will break down as:

  • $1.375 billion from the Homeland Security appropriations bill. This money cannot be used to build a wall but can be used to build other types of border barriers due to the way the bill is written
  • $600 million from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund, which would come from an executive action
  • $2.5 billion from the Defense Department's drug interdiction program, which would come from an executive action
  • $3.5 billion from the Defense Department's military construction budget, which would require a national emergency