On the same morning that President Donald Trump sent out a myriad of tweets ranting against a “fake news” media, the president seemed keen on omitting key parts of a Congressman’s statement in order to make it seem as though that lawmaker endorsed a viewpoint held by the chief executive.
Trump quoted Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) and made it seem as though he held the same beliefs as the president, that a national emergency could be declared in order to divert funds from some executive departments to build a border wall.
“Congressman Adam Smith, the new Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, just stated, ‘Yes, there is a provision in law that says a president can declare an emergency. It’s been done a number of times,'” Trump wrote in a tweet on Monday morning. “No doubt, but let’s get our deal done in Congress!”
Trump has said in the past week that he has the authority to make such a declaration, telling reporters on Friday he would much rather see an agreement in Congress come about, per reporting from CNN.
While the president has the authority to make such declarations, there are rules he must adhere to while doing so. The administration would likely face legal challenges to the idea as well, a point that Smith made in the same remarks that the president cited in his tweet.
“[P]rimarily it’s been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Smith added, according to reporting from the Guardian. “In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying: ‘Where is the emergency?'”
Past presidents have in fact attempted to use the declaration of a national emergency to get their way, only to be told they cannot do so by the legal system. The most notable instance of this was when President Harry Truman, citing the need for supplies in the Korean War, tried to nationalize the steel industry in the United States. The Supreme Court soundly rejected Truman’s claims, telling him that the need for steel did not justify the extreme action.
Legal experts on the issue agree that Trump could make a declaration himself, but differ on whether that means he could actually build the wall. “He can declare some kind of national emergency, but what it would allow him to do legally is a totally different question,” Washington University Professor Matt Dallek said, according to reporting from NBC News.
The United States federal government remains partially shut down due to the impasse between Congress and the White House on the issue of the border wall. Trump has said he will not agree to any bill that would re-open the government without billions of dollars in funding for the border wall.