Trump threatens to declare national emergency over border wall fight

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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has again threatened to declare a national emergency along the border with Mexico as he seeks funding for a wall he says will keep out dangerous immigrants his latest jab in a fight with Democrats in Congress that has now shut down parts of the government for a record-tying 21 days.

Such a declaration, almost certain to be challenged in court, would in theory allow Trump to sidestep Congress and divert money from military projects toward construction of the wall that has been a core focus of his nationalist campaign.

Speaking to Fox News in an interview broadcast Thursday evening, Trump reiterated he had “the absolute right to declare a national emergency.” But pressed on a timeline for doing so, he said he would “see what happens” over the coming days.

Analysts say the declaration would likely be challenged as a case of presidential overreach, which means the wall could still face being blocked.

However, it would give Trump political cover with his base by showing he’d done what he could to build the wall. At that point, Trump could end the shutdown and declare a win. The embarrassing closure of parts of the US government will set a record 22 days on Saturday.

Meanwhile, yesterday, some 800,000 federal workers who are working without pay or not at all because of the impasse will miss their first paycheck since the shutdown.

Trump toured the border with Mexico Thursday to press his case for a wall and warned of murderers and gangsters spreading across the country.

Trump used the backdrop of the Rio Grande border river at McAllen, Texas, to ramp up what has already turned into a hugely messy political fight with Democratic opponents.

With typical rhetorical flourishes, Trump said that only building more walls along the Mexican border could stop an onslaught of violent crime.

“They just go where there’s no security and you don’t even know the difference between Mexico and the United States,” he told a meeting of border patrol officers. “They have women tied up, they have tape over their mouths, electrical tape.” —Agencies

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