Washington, Feb 20(AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that he would prevail over a multistate lawsuit challenging his emergency declaration to pay for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he expected to do "very well" against the suit, adding that he had an "absolute right" to make the declaration.
"I think in the end we're going to be very successful with the lawsuit," Trump said. "I actually think we might do very well, even in the 9th Circuit, because it's an open and closed case."
A group of 16 states, including California, New York and Colorado, filed a lawsuit Monday against Trump's emergency declaration. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges Trump's declaration is unconstitutional.
All the states involved in the lawsuit have Democratic attorneys general.
Using a broad interpretation of his executive powers, Trump declared an emergency last week to obtain wall funding beyond the $1.4 billion Congress approved for border security. The move allows the president to bypass Congress to use money from the Pentagon and other budgets.
Trump's use of the emergency declaration has drawn bipartisan criticism and is already facing a number of legal challenges. Another suit was filed Tuesday in the Northern District of California by the American Civil Liberties Union. Filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, it says there is no emergency to justify the president's action and accuses Trump and other members of his administration of violating Constitutional limits on their authority.
Democrats are also planning to introduce a resolution disapproving of the declaration once Congress returns to session and it is likely to pass both chambers. Several Republican senators are already indicating they would vote against Trump — though there do not yet appear to be enough votes to override a veto by the president.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, would not explicitly say Tuesday whether she would support a resolution of disapproval if one came before the Senate. But she made clear she was worried about the precedent that could be set by Trump going around Congress to fund the wall.
"I'll be very direct. I don't like this. I don't like this. I think it takes us down a road, and with a precedent, that if it's allowed, that we may come to regret," said Murkowski, who said she supports efforts to bolster security at the border but is concerned about an erosion of checks and balances.
A top White House adviser said Sunday that Trump was prepared to issue his first veto if Congress votes to disapprove his declaration of a national emergency. Stephen Miller told "Fox News Sunday" that "the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration."
Trump argued Tuesday that the wall was needed to "stop drugs and crime and criminals and human trafficking." He has repeatedly sought to paint a dire picture of conditions at the border, though illegal border crossings are down from a high of 1.6 million in 2000.
After weeks spent battling with Congress over border funding and what constituted a wall versus a fence, Trump said, "I can call it a barrier, but I think I don't have to do that so much anymore, we'll call it whatever we want."
Democrats quickly seized on the move as an example of executive overreach. The office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a press release Tuesday that stated: "No one is above the law. Republicans must join Democrats to uphold the Constitution and stand with the American people — against the President's brazen assault."
Earlier Tuesday, Trump singled out California for its lead role in the suit, seeking to link the state's high-speed rail project to his plan for the wall.
On Twitter, Trump claimed the "failed Fast Train project" was beset by "world record setting" cost overruns and had become "hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!"
The estimated cost for a San Francisco-to-Los Angeles train has more than doubled to $77 billion. That's about 13 times the $5.7 billion Trump sought unsuccessfully from Congress to build the wall.
Hours later, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it planned to cancel $929 million in federal money allocated to California's rail project and seek to claw back $2.5 billion the state has already spent.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom charged it was a reaction to the lawsuit and pledged a fight to keep the money.
"It's no coincidence that the Administration's threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President's farcical 'national emergency,'" Newsom said in a statement. "This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by."
The spat over the rail project comes after Newsom said last week the project "as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long." He said the state would focus on completing a shorter segment in the state's Central Valley while seeking new funding sources for the longer route.
New York, Feb 19 (AP/UNB) — Protesters around the U.S. spent Presidents Day rallying against President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration as at least a dozen states planned a lawsuit to block Trump's latest ploy to fund his long-promised border wall.
"Trump is the national emergency!" chanted a group of hundreds lined up Monday at the White House fence while Trump was out of town in Florida. Some held up large letters spelling out "stop power grab." In downtown Fort Worth, Texas, a small group carried signs with messages including "no wall! #FakeTrumpEmergency."
California and 15 other states, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, filed a lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a statement Monday saying the suit alleges the Trump administration's action violates the Constitution.
Gov. Jared Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser, both Democrats, said in a statement that the wall project could divert tens of millions of dollars from military construction projects in Colorado.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, decried the president's actions at a peaceful rally attended by a few hundred people outside Los Angeles City Hall. Police kept the crowd separate from a handful of pro-Trump counter-protesters who waved flags and wore red "Make America Great Again" hats.
A large crowd also gathered outside the Federal Building in San Francisco. One demonstrator carried a sign that read: "Step 1: Declare a national emergency. Step 2: Play golf. Step 3: Watch SNL."
A crowd of more than 100 protesters gathered in frigid weather at the state Capitol in Denver roared with approval when Weiser told them his office was joining the multistate lawsuit, Denverite reported .
"There is zero real-world basis for the emergency declaration, and there will be no wall," New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Organized by the liberal group MoveOn and others, Monday's demonstrations took the occasion of the Presidents Day holiday to assail Trump's proclamation as undemocratic and anti-immigrant.
Kelly Quirk, of the progressive group Soma Action, told a gathering of dozens in Newark, New Jersey, that "democracy demands" saying "no more" to Trump.
"There are plenty of real emergencies to invest our tax dollars in," said Quirk.
In New York City, hundreds of people at a Manhattan park chanted "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here" as several of them held up letters spelling out, "IMPEACH."
There were some counter-protesters, including in Washington, where there was a brief scuffle in the crowd.
Trump's declaration Friday shifts billions of dollars from military construction to the border. The move came after Congress didn't approve as much as Trump wanted for the wall, which the Republican considers a national security necessity.
His emergency proclamation calls the border "a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics."
Illegal border crossings have declined from a high of 1.6 million in 2000. But 50,000 families are now entering illegally each month, straining the U.S. asylum system and border facilities.
Trump's critics have argued he undercut his own rationale for the emergency declaration by saying he "didn't need to do this" but wanted to get the wall built faster than he otherwise could. In announcing the move, he said he anticipated the legal challenges.
"President Trump declared a national emergency in order to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on his border wall obsession," Manar Waheed of the American Civil Liberties Union told protesters rallying in a Washington park before heading to the nearby White House fence. The ACLU has announced its intention to sue Trump over the issue.
Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy, said the president had undertaken to "steal money that we desperately need to build a country of our dreams so that he can build a monument to racism along the border."
At one point during the rally, a counter-protester walked through the crowd toting a sign saying "finish the wall" on one side and "protect the poor" on the other. Another man snatched his sign from him, sparking a short scuffle.
Sacramento, Feb 19 (AP/UNB) — California and 15 other states filed a lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a statement Monday saying the suit alleges the Trump administration's action violates the Constitution.
"President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt," Becerra said. "He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court."
Joining California in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia. All the states involved in the lawsuit have Democratic attorneys general.
Trump declared a national emergency to fulfill his promise of completing the wall.
The move allows the president to bypass Congress to use money from the Pentagon and other budgets.
The states say diversion of military funding to wall-building will hurt their economies and deprive their military bases of needed upgrades. They say taking away funds from counter-drug efforts for the wall will also cause damage. California and New Mexico, the two Mexican border states in the lawsuit, say the wall will harm wildlife.
California has repeatedly challenged Trump in court.
"President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up 'national emergency' in order to seize power and undermine the Constitution," said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement. "This 'emergency' is a national disgrace."
Washington, Feb 16 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump claimed Friday that Japan's prime minister had nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize for opening a dialogue with North Korea.
Trump also complained about President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and doubted he would be similarly honored.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize," Trump said at a White House news conference when asked about his late February summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "He said, 'I have nominated you, respectfully, on behalf of Japan. I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize.'"
The Associated Press could not immediately confirm Trump's claim.
Japan's Foreign Ministry said Saturday that it was aware of Trump's remark but cannot comment on details of the exchanges between Trump and Abe.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who also has credited Trump with starting negotiations with the reclusive North, has endorsed the U.S. leader for the Nobel Peace Prize as well.
Trump said early exchanges with Kim were filled with "fire and fury," but that the two have established a good relationship since their first meeting last year in Singapore. He said claimed Abe nominated him because he was worried about North Korea conducting missile tests over Japan.
Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, his first year in office, for laying out the U.S. commitment to "seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."
Trump complained Friday that Obama was there "for about 15 seconds" before he was awarded the prize.
"I'll probably never get it, but that's OK," Trump said. "They gave it to Obama. He didn't even know what he got it for."
Washington, Feb 16 (AP/UNB)— President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to build his long-promised border wall ends one political problem for the White House and its allies on Capitol Hill, but launches another.
Republicans are deeply torn over Trump's decision to invoke executive power after Congress denied him money he wanted for the wall along the Southern border. Some are backing the president, while others are vehemently opposed to what they see as constitutional overreach, setting up a potential showdown that adds to the already expected legal challenges.
"I don't believe a national emergency declaration is the solution," said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who warned of taking the country down a "rabbit hole" with future presidents seizing unchecked executive power.
"No crisis justifies violating the Constitution," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said, "Declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution."
It's an outcome Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his leadership warned Trump against. For days, they publicly urged him not to declare an emergency. But with Trump's signature Friday on the action, the Republican leaders are largely falling in line behind Trump.
As Democrats are quick to call for oversight and investigation, they are also almost certain to seek a vote of disapproval that will force Republicans to stand with the president — or against him.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., says his committee will investigate the "serious constitutional and statutory issues" raised by the declaration and will ask White House officials to appear for testimony.
Nadler said Trump's decision shows "reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system."
The ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, said that while he supports Trump's commitment to securing the border, "a national emergency is a serious act with deep implications, and it's disappointing that partisan politics have brought us to this point."
Congress has specific ability under the National Emergencies Act to halt the president by a simple majority vote of disapproval in both chambers. That makes the outcome uncertain, especially in the Senate where Republicans now hold a narrow 53-47 majority.
Trump would almost certainly threaten to veto such a resolution, if it passed, and Congress would then be faced with the difficult task of mounting the votes to override.
Trump's decision creates an "important moment for constitutional democracy," said Chris Edelson, assistant professor of government at American University and author of a book on presidential power.
"Congress has the tools available to stop this if it chooses to act," Edelson said. "All eyes should be on Republicans in Congress, some of whom are clearly troubled by this action, including the precedent it could set."
Top Trump allies are splintering. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, once resistant to an emergency declaration, told Fox News he's all for it. "We would be idiots as Republicans not to support Donald Trump to try to build this wall anyway he can," Graham said.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., may be tougher to sway. "I, too, want stronger border security, including a wall in some areas. But how we do things matters," Paul said in a statement.
"Extraconstitutional executive actions are wrong, no matter which party does them," added Paul, who regularly criticized former President Barack Obama for what Paul and other Republicans termed executive overreach.
On and off Capitol Hill, many Republicans criticized Obama for what they saw as executive overreach, particularly on immigration issues. Some of Obama's actions, including those to shield young immigrants from deportation, continue to play out in the courts.
While some GOP voices this week urged Trump on, others encouraged restraint.
"We'll regret this," said a headline in the conservative National Review. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Friday that Trump's decision will "create a dangerous precedent that erodes the very system of government that has served us so well for over 200 years."
Rubio and others have asked what would happen if a future president tried to use the same emergency authority for their priorities — for example, to impose gun control or fight climate change.
Newly-elected Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., suggested as much in a Friday tweet: "Our next President should declare a #NationalEmergency on day 1 to address the existential threat to all life on the planet posed by Climate Change."
But Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., another Trump ally who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus, said there's "wide support" in the party for Trump's action. "There's certainly a big push to make sure that we limit executive power," he said, but the laws are in place and "we support it."
Democrats are already gearing up to do battle. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted Friday that Democrats "aren't going to let the President declare a fake national emergency without a fight."
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was introducing a resolution to terminate the declaration, which he called "an end run around the Constitution." The joint resolution, he said, "will allow Congress an opportunity to reclaim its authority."
In the end, the philosophical arguments about presidential powers may run into the more specific concerns about how Trump plans to pay for the wall.
White House officials said Friday they plan to spend $8 billion on the wall — the nearly $1.4 billion Congress approved for new fences and barriers, plus more than $6 billion drawn from other funds.
Among them is a military construction account popular on Capitol Hill because it provides money to improve housing, medical facilities, roads and other aspects of military life. The projects are spread throughout congressional districts nationwide.
A group of House Republicans urged Trump in a letter not to shift money away from military construction accounts. "Diverting funding from ongoing or planned projects would be incredibly harmful," the GOP lawmakers wrote.
Among those signing the letter, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said it's a "dangerous precedent for the president to be forced to declare a national emergency" over funding.
The White House said it would be looking at "lower priority" projects. A senior administration official granted anonymity to brief reporters on a conference call Friday said officials will look to shift money from projects that are "to fix or repair a particular facility that might be able to wait a couple of months into next year."