Trump will "probably" declare national emergency absent a deal in Congress
President Trump indicated Thursday he will likely declare a national emergency if Congress doesn't reach an agreement to fund his border wall — a move that is sure to set off challenges in the courts if he goes ahead with it. The president made the remarks to reporters on the White House South Lawn ahead of his departure to Texas to survey the southern border.
"If this doesn't work out, I probably will do it, I would almost say definitely," Mr. Trump told reporters, adding later, "If we don't make a deal, I would say 100 percent but I don't want to say 100 percent."
If Congress doesn't make a deal, Mr. Trump said "it would be very surprising" if he didn't declare such a national emergency. Declaring a national emergency, the president explained, frees up a "tremendous" amount of funds.
Democrats, the president exclaimed, "don't give a damn" about crime, or people coming into the country and stabbing Americans. Mr. Trump said he thinks a steel barrier or wall would pay for itself every three or four months, and insisted that Mexico is paying for the wall "indirectly."
"The only way you have a strong border is you have a wall or steel barrier," the president said.
The president also said he will not go to the international conference in Davos, Switzerland, later this month if the shutdown continues.
Mr. Trump's insistence on billions of dollars in funding to keep a signature campaign promise — and Democrats' insistence to fund the government without wall funding — mean the partial government shutdown is poised to be the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Shutdown negotiations disintegrated Wednesday when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi indicated Democrats wouldn't support funding for the wall within 30 days if the government reopens, and Mr. Trump walked out of the room and said "bye-bye."
In McAllen, Texas, Mr. Trump visited a border patrol station where he was briefed by agents on the situation at the border. While border patrol agents there expressed support for a border wall or barrier, the border patrol agent in charge showed an image of a tunnel illegal immigrants had carved — under a wall.
At the border, the president repeated a claim he had made earlier in the day — that he never said Mexico would write a check for the border wall. He always said Mexico would pay through trade deals, Mr. Trump insisted.
"When I say Mexico's going to pay for the wall that's what i said, Mexico's going to pay. I didn't say they're going to write me a check for $20 billion or $10 billion. They weren't going to write a check. I said they're going to pay for the wall. And if Congress approves this incredible trade bill that we made with Mexico and Canada by the way but with Mexico in this case, they're paying for the wall many many times over."
But Mr. Trump repeatedly insisted on the campaign trail that Mexico, not American taxpayers, would pay for the wall. Using the Internet archiving tool Wayback Machine, CBS News obtained the now-deleted memo the Trump campaign posted in April 2015 describing how the U.S. would compel Mexico to make a "one-time payment" of $5 or $10 billion for the wall.
Meanwhile, some cracks are starting to show in the Republican Party. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, posted a video to Twitter saying there is no need for the shutdown.
But Mr. Trump insisted on Twitter Thursday morning there is "GREAT" unity in his party on Capitol Hill.
"There is GREAT unity with the Republicans in the House and Senate, despite the Fake News Media working in overdrive to make the story look otherwise," Mr. Trump wrote. "The Opposition Party & the Dems know we must have Strong Border Security, but don't want to give "Trump" another one of many wins!"
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Trump ally, said he doesn't know what the path forward here is.
"I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now. I just don't see a pathway forward. Somebody has got to get some energy to fix this," Graham said.
CBS News' Alan He contributed to this report.
for more features.