WASHINGTON (AP/WCSC) - President Donald Trump says he needs to use emergency powers to protect the nation from drug dealers and illegal immigrants.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a photo of Trump signing the declaration Friday in the moments before his scattershot Rose Garden news conference.
At 2:30 p.m., word came that Trump had signed a congressional bill to avert a second government shutdown and pay for limited border fencing.
But at his news conference earlier in the day, Trump told stories, without providing evidence, of horrific abuse of women being smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border. He also said the border wall would be needed to battle drug cartels as part of a “virtual invasion” from Mexico.
The president declared a national emergency and would find other funds for the wall after expressing unhappiness about a congressional border security deal.
Families of people killed by illegal immigrants were in attendance at the news conference.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who was in Moncks Corner Friday morning to attend a celebration of Google’s 10th anniversary in the state, said he supported Trump’s decision.
“I think that’s what he has to do, I think we have to keep the border secure," McMaster said. “We see these caravans, we’ve never seen things like this before. I don’t blame people for wanting to come to the United States, but a lot of them want to come for the wrong reasons. We have to have secure borders. We have to know who’s coming in and if the Congress, the Democrats in Congress, won’t let him do it then he’ll find another way and I support him in that.”
Congress’ two top Democrats say they’ll use “every remedy available” to oppose Trump’s declaration of an emergency to shift billions of federal dollars into building the wall.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday they’ll take action “in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public.” They say Trump’s decision to declare an emergency is unlawful. They say it would “shred the Constitution” by usurping Congress’ power to control spending.
White House officials say some of the money would come from military construction projects. Pelosi and Schumer say Trump would be using money needed "for the security of our military and our nation."
Democrats can file lawsuits and force congressional votes to block Trump's money transfers. Trump could veto the legislation should it pass.
Trump said at his news conference that he expects legal challenges.
In a sing-songy tone of voice, Trump then described how the decision will be challenged and work its way through the courts, including up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump says he shouldn't be sued but predicted "we will be very successful in court."
“Sadly, we’ll be sued and sadly it will go through a process and happily we’ll win,” he said.
Trump says many other presidents have declared national emergencies. But the presidents he has cited did not use emergency powers to pay for projects that Congress wouldn't support.
Emergency declarations by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were overwhelmingly for the purpose of addressing crises that emerged abroad. Many blocked foreign interests or terrorist-linked entities from access to funds. Some prohibited certain imports from or investments to countries associated with human rights abuses.
A list compiled by the Brennan Center says Clinton declared 17 national emergencies, Bush 13 and Obama 12.