I’ve wondered whether by signing the bipartisan funding bill, President Trump weakens his case that we face a national emergency. I don’t know that he does, it just seemed like a possibility worth discussing.
But today, Trump appeared truly to weaken his case. During a press event, Trump declared that he didn’t need to “do this” (i.e. declare the emergency), but he wanted to build the wall “much faster.”
Isn’t the statement that Trump didn’t need to declare the emergency an admission that there is no emergency? It sounds that way.
Why did Trump make the statement? Maybe his ego is to blame.
Maybe Trump did not want to make it sound like he got very little from the Democrats in the way of wall money he’ll be able to use. Maybe he was sugar-coating the deal Republicans got and the bill he will sign. But by doing so, he seemed to have hurt his case.
What did Trump mean, though, when he said the didn’t need his declaration, but just wants to build the wall faster. It’s clear that, under the terms of the spending bill, he won’t be able to build the wall he says America needs — not quickly, not slowly. He’s limited to about 55 miles of fencing and, given the poison pill Democrats inserted, he’ll be lucky to build that much, absent the declaration of emergency.
I believe what Trump had in mind is that the bipartisan deal funds the government only until the end of September of this year. He probably meant that he can get the funding he needs to build a proper wall later this year through another deal, but doesn’t want to wait that long. Because there’s an emergency.
In other words, Trump doesn’t need the money to build the wall he wants, but needs it to build that wall as quickly as the exigent circumstances demand.
This matter is headed for litigation and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court. It’s highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will resolve the dispute by the time current bipartisan deal expires.
Thus, by the time the Court is ready to decide the matter, we may know whether Trump has gotten enough money from Congress to fund the wall at the level he says he needs to cope with the “emergency.” If he has, the whole dispute may be moot. If he hasn’t, today’s seeming “admission against interest” will arguably be moot.