Washington, Jan 13 (AP/UNB) — As the partial government shutdown slipped into the record books Saturday, members of Congress had left town, no negotiations were scheduled and President Donald Trump tweeted into the void.
He did not tip his hand on whether he will move ahead with an emergency declaration that could break the impasse, free up money for his wall without congressional approval and kick off legal challenges and a political storm over the use of that extraordinary step. A day earlier, he said he was not ready to do it "right now."
....I do have a plan on the Shutdown. But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
Lawmakers are due back in Washington from their states and congressional districts in the new week.
Trump fired off a series of tweets pushing back against the notion that he doesn't have a strategy to end what became the longest government shutdown in U.S. history when it entered its 22nd day Saturday. "Elections have consequences!" he declared, meaning the 2016 election in which "I promised safety and security" and, as part of that, a border wall.
But there was another election, in November, and the consequence of that is that Democrats now control the House and they refuse to give Trump money for a wall.
Trump threatened anew that the shutdown could continue indefinitely. Later Saturday, he supplemented a day's worth of tweets by telephoning in to Fox News Channel's "Justice with Judge Jeanine" Pirro from the White House to continue his public relations blitz for the wall. Pirro pressed Trump on why he had yet to declare a national emergency. He said he's giving Congress a chance to "act responsibly."
Trump also said he has "no idea" whether he can get a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposes spending money on an "ineffective, wasteful wall."
The president is expected in the new week to sign legislation passed by Congress to provide back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who aren't being paid during the shutdown. Paychecks were due Friday, but many workers received stubs with zeroes.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, traveling Saturday in Abu Dhabi, claimed that morale is good among U.S. diplomats even as many work without pay. "We're doing our best to make sure it doesn't impact our diplomacy," he said.
Almost half of the State Department employees in the U.S. and about one-quarter abroad have been furloughed during the shutdown. With the exception of certain local employees overseas, the rest are working without pay, like those tasked with supporting Pompeo's trip, which has thus far taken him to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain, with additional stops to come.
An emergency declaration by Trump could break the stalemate by letting him use existing, unspent money to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall, without needing congressional approval. Democrats oppose that step but may be unable to stop it. Many Republicans are wary, too.
Nevertheless the administration has accelerated planning for it. Officials explored diverting money from a range of accounts, including $13.9 billion given to the Army Corps of Engineers after last year's deadly hurricanes and floods. That option appeared to lose steam following an outcry.
Other possibilities included tapping asset forfeiture funds, such as money seized from drug kingpins, according to a congressional Republican not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations. The White House also was eyeing military construction money, another politically difficult choice because it would take away from a backlog of hundreds of projects.
Trump has been counseled by outside advisers to move toward declaring a national emergency for the "crisis" that he says exists at the southern border. This, as polls suggest Trump is getting most of the blame for the shutdown.
But some in the White House are trying to apply the brakes. Jared Kushner was among those opposed to the declaration, arguing to his father-in-law that pursuing a broader immigration deal was a better option. A person familiar with White House thinking said that in meetings this past week, the message was that the administration is in no rush and wants to consider various options. The person was unauthorized to discuss private sessions and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Pelosi argued that Trump is merely trying to steer attention away from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and other White House problems. "This is a big diversion, and he's a master of diversion," she told reporters.
Trump has told advisers he believes the fight for the wall, even if he never gets money for it, is a political win for him.
Some of the outside advisers who want him to declare a national emergency say it could have two benefits.
First, it would allow him to claim that he was the one to act to reopen the government. Second, inevitable legal challenges would send the matter to court, allowing Trump to continue the fight for the wall — and continue to excite his supporters — while not actually closing the government or immediately requiring him to start construction.
But while that might end the standoff and allow Congress to move to other priorities, some Republicans believe such a declaration would usurp congressional power and could lead future Democratic presidents to make similar moves to advance liberal priorities.
"Most conservatives want it to be the last resort he would use," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who speaks to Trump frequently. "But those same conservatives, I'm sure if it's deployed, would embrace him as having done all he could do to negotiate with Democrats."
Washington, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump says it would be easy for him just to declare a national emergency and find federal money to build a barrier along the southern border, but he's not going to be so quick to do that because he thinks lawmakers can do it.
Trump spoke during a discussion Friday at the White House with state, local and community leaders about border security and safe communities.
The president says the "easy solution is for me to call a national emergency ... but I'm not going to do it so fast."
Trump says, "This is something that Congress can do."
Attendees included state attorneys general, local elected leaders, faith leaders and federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling President Donald Trump's threat to use disaster relief money to build a border wall "unconscionable."
The new Democratic governor says the proposal would take away money from California communities devastated by disaster to "pay for an immoral wall that America doesn't want or need."
The president earlier threatened to withhold federal emergency money for California's wildfire response.
Seven water-related California projects are on the chopping block. One includes raising parts of the Folsom Dam to prevent flood risk in the Sacramento region. The dam is one of the nation's five critical infrastructure dams.
President Donald Trump says his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border supports what he sees as a crisis of drugs and crime coming across.
He tweets that "it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!"
During a visit to the Texas border this week, Trump was presented with statistics on unauthorized crossings and an array of drugs seized by agents. But the drugs were intercepted at official points of entry, not the areas where Trump wants to build a wall. And when Trump traveled to the Rio Grande, there were no signs of invading hordes.
Trump is trying to get lawmakers to fund the wall as part of ending the partial government shutdown.
Vice President Mike Pence is pledging that the Trump administration will keep fighting to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pence made that commitment during what was meant to be a morale-boosting appearance at the Washington headquarters for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
CBP agents are among the 800,000 federal employees who must work without pay during what is on track to become the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Pence told several dozen agents that just as they fight daily for the nation's security, "this president and this administration will keep fighting to build the wall."
Just a few Republicans have joined Democrats as the House has voted to reopen some agencies closed by the partial federal shutdown.
The measure isn't expected to go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate, and the closure is continuing for a record-tying 21st day.
The vote shows that Republicans, at least in the House, remain largely behind President Donald Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in taxpayer money to start building his proposed border wall with Mexico.
The House voted by a near party-line 240-179 on Friday to reopen the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and some smaller agencies.
Ten Republicans joined all voting Democrats by voting "yes." The 10 defections were similar to the number of House Republicans who've supported other spending measures.
The government also closed for 21 days beginning in December 1995.
U.S. officials say the Pentagon is finalizing plans that would send hundreds of additional active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border for several more months to support the Department of Homeland Security and install another 160 miles (257 kilometers) of concertina wire in Arizona and California.
Details are being worked out, but the plan likely would extend the military's border mission though the end of September. The mission is separate from President Donald Trump's campaign to build a border wall but is designed to bolster security.
Officials said Friday the installation of the wire barrier is not expected to take that long, so troops doing that would be finished long before September.
There currently are 2,350 active-duty troops assigned to the border mission, which was slated to end Jan. 31.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet approved.
Ottawa, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — A double-deck city bus smashed into a transit shelter during Friday's rush hour, and Ottawa authorities said three people were killed and 23 injured.
Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the bus driver was arrested after the crash, but he declined to provide details on why she was detained. He said police were still investigating the cause of the crash.
"Something led us to having to arrest the individual and take them to the station," Bordeleau said.
The crash took place west of downtown at 3:50 p.m., just as dusk was beginning to settle on the coldest day of the winter so far in Canada's capital
Two of the dead were riding the bus and one was on the platform at Westboro station, a major stop on the city's busway, Mayor Jim Watson said.
The vehicle apparently jumped the curb as it approached the station and plowed along the platform, where the roof of a shelter carved deep into the vehicle's second deck. The first seats on the upper level of the bus were crushed together.
Paramedics said a total of 25 people were taken to the hospital, suggesting one of the victims could not be revived at the scene and the other two died after arriving. Of those transported, 14 were in critical condition and 11 were in serious condition, paramedic chief Myles Cassidy said at a news conference.
"I want to send my deepest condolences to the families of victims and everyone affected by today's tragic bus crash," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted. "Thank you to the first responders who rushed to help — we're monitoring the situation closely."
The bus had a capacity of 90 people, both sitting and standing.
The crash snarled afternoon traffic as emergency crews descended on the scene.
In 2013, another Ottawa double-decker city bus broke through a warning gate and collided with a Via Rail train in suburban Barrhaven, killing six people as the train sheared off the front of the vehicle.
Washington, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — The New York Times reports that law enforcement officials became so concerned by President Donald Trump's behavior in the days after he fired FBI Director James Comey that they began investigating whether he had been working for Russia against U.S. interests.
The report, published late Friday, cites unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
Special counsel Robert Mueller took over the investigation when he was appointed soon after Comey's firing. The Times says it's unclear whether Mueller is still pursuing it.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times that he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn't heard anything, apparently "they found nothing."
Washington, Jan 11 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump is edging closer to declaring a national emergency to fund his long-promised border wall, as pressure mounts to find an escape hatch from the three-week impasse that has closed parts of the government, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay.
Some 800,000 workers, more than half of them still on the job, were to miss their first paycheck on Friday under the stoppage, and Washington was close to setting a dubious record for the longest government shutdown in the nation's history. Those markers — along with growing effects to national parks, food inspections and the economy overall — left some Republicans on Capitol Hill increasingly uncomfortable with Trump's demands.
Asked about the plight of those going without pay, the president shifted the focus, saying he felt badly "for people that have family members that have been killed" by criminals who came over the border.
Trump visited McAllen, Texas, and the Rio Grande on Thursday to highlight what he calls a crisis of drugs and crime. He said that "if for any reason we don't get this going" — an agreement with House Democrats who have refused to approve the $5.7 billion he demands for the wall — "I will declare a national emergency."
Trump was consulting with White House attorneys and allies about using presidential emergency powers to take unilateral action to construct the wall over the objections of Congress. He claimed his lawyers told him the action would withstand legal scrutiny "100 percent."
Such a move to bypass Congress' constitutional control of the nation's purse strings would spark certain legal challenges and bipartisan cries of executive overreach.
A congressional official said the White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to look for billions of dollars earmarked last year for disaster response for Puerto Rico and other areas that could be diverted to a border wall as part of the emergency declaration. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
"We're either going to have a win, make a compromise — because I think a compromise is a win for everybody — or I will declare a national emergency," Trump said before departing the White House for his politically flavored visit to the border. He wore his campaign-slogan "Make America Great Again" cap throughout.
It was not clear what a compromise might entail, and there were no indications that one was in the offing. Trump says he won't reopen the government without money for the wall. Democrats say they favor measures to bolster border security but oppose the long, impregnable barrier that Trump envisions.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said at one point that he didn't "see a path in Congress" to end the shutdown, then stated later that enough was enough: "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier."
Visiting a border patrol station in McAllen, Trump viewed tables piled with weapons and narcotics. Like nearly all drugs trafficked across the border, they were intercepted by agents at official ports of entry, he was told, and not in the remote areas where he wants to extend tall barriers.
Still, he declared: "A wall works. ... Nothing like a wall."
He argued that the U.S. can't solve the problem without a "very substantial barrier" along the border, but offered exaggerations about the effectiveness of border walls and current apprehensions of those crossing illegally.
Sitting among border patrol officers, state and local officials and military representatives, Trump insisted he was "winning" the shutdown fight and criticized Democrats for asserting he was manufacturing a sense of crisis in order to declare an emergency. "What is manufactured is the use of the word 'manufactured,'" Trump said.
As he arrived in Texas, several hundred protesters near the airport in McAllen chanted and waved signs opposing a wall. Across the street, a smaller group chanted back: "Build that wall!"
In Washington, federal workers denounced Trump at a rally with congressional Democrats, demanding he reopen the government so they can get back to work.
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the president of engaging in political games to fire up his most loyal supporters, suggesting that a heated meeting Wednesday with legislators at the White House had been "a setup" so that Trump could walk out of it.
In an ominous sign for those seeking a swift end to the showdown, Trump announced he was canceling his trip to Davos, Switzerland, scheduled for later this month, citing Democrats' "intransigence" on border security. He was to leave Jan. 21 to attend the World Economic Forum.
The partial shutdown would set a record early Saturday, stretching beyond the 21-day closure that ended Jan 6, 1996, during President Bill Clinton's administration.