Trump Vows To Build Wall Without Lawmakers In ‘New York Times’ Interview

Trump sits in the Oval Office.
Mark Wilson / Getty Images

President Trump called continuing negotiations over his proposed border wall a “waste of time” and vowed to circumvent lawmakers to get it built, he said in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times.

In addition to the two New York Times reporters, Trump was joined in the Oval Office by Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff; Bill Shine, senior communications adviser; and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary. He drank a Diet Coke during the interview.

“I think Nancy Pelosi is hurting our country very badly by doing what’s she doing and, ultimately, I think I’ve set the table very nicely,” the president said. “I’ve set the table. I’ve set the stage for doing what I’m going to do.”

While Trump did not explicitly share his intentions, he has previously floated the idea of declaring a national emergency in pursuit of the funding necessary for the wall. While an emergency declaration would indeed circumvent Congress, it would likely draw a challenge in the courts as well.

“I’ll continue to build the wall, and we’ll get the wall finished,” the president said of his ongoing negotiations with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. “Now whether or not I declare a national emergency — that you’ll see.”

The conversation comes in the wake of what became the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history, where Trump’s demand for the border wall brought Democrats and Republicans to a lengthy impasse over the federal budget. The shutdown ended with a three-week temporary reopening of the government under the understanding that the wall would be revisited during that time.

Congressional Democrats have made no indication that they intend to change their position when it comes to wall funding. The topic is expected to be addressed at length by the president during his scheduled State of the Union address on Tuesday.

According to reporters, Trump was generally reserved throughout the conversations, becoming occasionally animated when discussing what he believes to be unfair media coverage of him and his administration and occasionally bemoaning the personal financial impact of taking on the job of president.

“I lost massive amounts of money doing this job,” he told reporters. “This is not the money. This is one of the great losers of all time. You know, fortunately, I don’t need money. This is one of the great losers of all time. But they’ll say that somebody from some country stayed at a hotel. And I’ll say, ‘Yeah.’ But I lose, I mean, the numbers are incredible.”