Trump admits he 'didn't need to' declare national emergency but wants to get the border wall 'done faster'

Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump declares a national emergency at the US-Mexico border as he speaks about border security in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on February 15, 2019.Carlos Barria/Reuters

  • President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to obtain funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border. 
  • During his announcement, Trump said, "I didn't need to do this. I just want to get it done faster, that's all."
  • The border wall was one of Trump's biggest promises during his 2016 presidential campaign. 
  • Trump is likely to face legal challenges to his emergency declaration, which Democrats say is an abuse of executive power. 
  • The president's statement that he "didn't need to" declare the emergency could come up during any legal battles that might follow his big announcement, according to some legal experts.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency for his border wall, and in the process of delivering a lengthy defense on his decision said he "didn't need to do this." 

"I didn't need to do this," Trump said of the national emergency declaration, adding, "I just want to get it done faster, that's all."

During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to build a wall along the entirety of the US-Mexico border to help prevent undocumented immigration and the influx of drugs from Mexico. 

The president has struggled to make good on this pledge since entering the White House, and a fight with congressional Democrats over funding for the wall recently led to the longest government shutdown in US history.

Trump ended the shutdown in late January by signing a bill that temporarily funded the government and he's set to sign a new funding bill on Friday.

 

Read more: Why a GOP congressman who represents more of the border than anyone in Congress opposes Trump's wall

The new bill includes just $1.4 billion for physical barriers on the border, much less than the $5.7 billion the White House was seeking. The shortfall is part of his justification for declaring the national emergency. The declaration was the culmination of threatening to use his emergency powers to get funding for the border wall for weeks. 

Democratic leaders on Friday denounced Trump's declaration as "unlawful."

In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, "The President's actions clearly violate the Congress's exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available."

Read more: Several House Republicans broke with Trump and voted with Democrats to pass 2 bills that would end the government shutdown

In recent weeks, some prominent Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Chuck Grassley have also expressed concerns about the precedent Trump will set by declaring a national emergency and warned that he will face opposition the courts. 

Trump alluded to this during his Friday announcement, stating he's likely to be "sued." 

"I expect to be sued," Trump said.

The president's statement that he "didn't need to" declare the emergency could come up during any legal battles that might follow his big announcement, according to some legal experts.

In the past, national emergencies have often been declared to impose sanctions on people involved in human rights abuses in various parts of the world, particularly Africa and Central America.

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