The president of the United States has lambasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling her “very bad for our country” and saying that “she doesn’t mind human trafficking” because she opposes designating money for a wall at the U.S. border with Mexico.
In an interview Friday with CBS News, Donald Trump said Pelosi is “very rigid” and that she is attempting “to win a political point’ by refusing to give him money for the wall that was a major component of his successful presidential campaign.
During the campaign, however, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico has refused. Now Trump wants Congress to give him money for the border wall, and the Democrats who are in control of the House of Representatives have refused.
“Democrats have put forward strong, smart and effective border security solutions in the bipartisan conference committee,” said Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman, adding that the president “still refuses to take a second shutdown off the table.”
Trump recently ended a 35-day partial government shutdown without getting the $5.7 billion he wanted for the wall.
National emergency option
The president said Friday he will consider calling for a “national emergency” as the path forward to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border because he doesn’t think negotiations among lawmakers will produce the necessary funding.
“We will be looking at a national emergency because I don’t think anything is going to happen. I think Democrats don’t want border security. And when I hear them talking about the fact that walls are immoral, walls don’t work — they know they work,” Trump said Friday.
However, The Washington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is a Republican, has privately warned Trump that a declaration of a national emergency could divide the Republican Party.
The Post, citing two Republican sources, said McConnell told Trump that such a declaration could lead Congress to pass a resolution disapproving the emergency declaration.
On Thursday, the president called bipartisan congressional talks over border wall funding a “waste of time.”
In a White House interview with The New York Times Thursday, Trump again hinted he may declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and build the wall without its approval.
“I’ll continue to build the wall and we’ll get the wall finished. Now whether or not I declare a national emergency, that you’ll see … I’ve set the table, I’ve set the stage for doing what I’m going to do.”
Government shutdown option
In less than three weeks, if there is no deal on border security that Trump would sign, there could be another government shutdown.
If Trump does declare a national emergency, Democrats who don’t want any money for a border wall will probably immediately challenge Trump in court.
The president had strong words for Pelosi who has said over and over again she will not agree to give Trump the $5.7 billion he wants for a wall.
Pelosi has said she was open to other kinds of barriers along the border, but Trump said that was unacceptable.
More troops to the border
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it is sending an additional 3,500 troops to the U.S. southern border with Mexico to assist with border security measures.
Democrat Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released the latest troop numbers after slamming the Pentagon’s lack of transparency in a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
A defense official confirmed that the Pentagon was sending 3,500 more active duty troops to the border, for a total of 5,800 active duty troops and 2,300 National Guard troops supporting the Department of Homeland Security’s request for additional border security.
The official, who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity, added that this “initial pop” in the number of troops would not be sustained through September.
Some of these 3,500 will be replacing troops who will be leaving soon, while others are only assigned to the border for 30 or 60 days in order to set up large coiled barbed wire in specific areas, according to the official.
Without giving any details, Trump tweeted Thursday “More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large caravans, into our Country. We have stopped the previous Caravans, and we will stop these also. With a Wall it would be soooo much easier and less expensive.”
Trump, as he often has, claimed erroneously that “Large sections of WALL have already been built with much more either under construction or ready to go.” The U.S. has been repairing existing barriers, which Trump called “a very big part of the plan to finally, after many decades, properly Secure Our Border. The Wall is getting done one way or the other!”
At various times, Trump has called the barriers at the border an impenetrable concrete wall, and other times “steel slats,” or a see-through barrier, even “peaches,” if people preferred.
On Thursday, though, Trump said, “Let’s just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!”