In a brief exchange with the White House press corps following his speech Friday declaring a “national emergency” to construct a wall along the United States-Mexico border, Donald Trump made a startling admission that experts say will be used against him in court challenges to the “emergency” order, according to a report by the Washington, D.C., news site the Hill.
Even though he declared what he described as an “invasion” of illegal immigrants constituted an “emergency” that required the construction of a wall, Trump also said that he “didn’t need” to declare the emergency.
“I want to do it faster,” Trump said in the remarks, as quoted by BuzzFeed News. “I can do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. I would rather do it much faster. I don’t have to do it for the election. I have already done a lot of wall for the election 2020.”
Trump’s assertion that he “didn’t need” to call the national emergency was met with immediate reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who wrote on his Twitter account, “Mr. President, how can this possibly be an [sic] national emergency if you’re saying you don’t need to do it? Unreal.”
Schumer concluded the tweet with the hashtag “#FakeTrumpEmergency.”
Frequent Trump critic from the Republican side, George Conway — who is the husband of Trump’s “counselor to the president” Kellyanne Conway — also took to his Twitter account after Trump confessed that he did not need to declare a national emergency, saying that statement would likely be used by opponents of the emergency order in their court challenges to the declaration.
“This quote should be the first sentence of the first paragraph of every complaint filed this afternoon,” Conway wrote.
Schumer and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that they would use “every remedy available,” including court actions to block Trump’s national emergency declaration, according to an MSN report.
Former United States Attorney Joyce Vance called Trump’s admission “a gift to all the lawyers preparing to sue him” on her Twitter feed, while Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice called Trump’s admission “plaintiffs’ Exhibit A.”
Though Trump may have made the admission inadvertently, statistics seemingly support the claim that Trump “didn’t need” to declare a national emergency over the issue of illegal immigration. According to figures published by FactCheck.org, unauthorized border crossings have declined steadily since 2006 and as of last year were at their lowest levels since 1973.