“The Justice Department placed an online job posting for a pair of attorneys to tackle border wall litigation in South Texas — a sign of coming property seizures and other legal controversies that President Trump anticipates if he plows ahead with his signature project,” Politico reports.
Amy Walter: “Trump’s decision to center the debate solely on the construction of a wall (or fence or barrier or steel slats), has also has helped to consolidate Democrats. By now, Republicans had warned us in numerous ads over the 2018 campaign, Democrats would be hosting anti-ICE protests and defending sanctuary cities. The ‘open borders’ liberals would be forcing suburban, swing seat members to choose between their moderate constituents and their liberal allies in Congress.”
But, what’s keeping the Democratic caucus from splitting in two (or three, or four) is that debate isn’t about immigration anymore. It’s about a wall. And, even his own base isn’t convinced that a wall is worth it.”
The Trump administration separated thousands more migrant children from parents at border than previously known, the Washington Post reports.
“A report from Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general said the federal tracking system has been so poor that the precise number of migrant children separated from their parents is unclear.”
Three West Virginia lawmakers are introducing a bill that would use $10 million in state funds to help build a wall at the border of the United States and Mexico, WDTV reports.
The delegates say that the wall could help dissipate the drug problem in the state by stopping the flow of illegal drugs across the border.
President Trump appeared to rule out declaring a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying he “shouldn’t have to” do so to end a partial government that is now in its 24th day, Politico reports.
Said Trump” “Now I have the absolute legal right to call it, but I’m not looking to do that.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested that President Trump reopen the federal government “for a short period of time” to see if Congress can reach a deal to fund a border wall, cautioning that Trump is “not going to give in” on his demands for a border wall, Axios reports.
“House Democrats are aggressively exploring a possible legal challenge should President Trump declare a national emergency to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, scouring federal law and court precedents — including a recent attempt by a Republican-controlled House to undermine the Obama-era health-care law,” the Washington Post reports.
“The preparation comes as leaders of both parties become increasingly convinced that Trump will see a national-emergency declaration as the only possible way to secure the billions of taxpayer dollars he is seeking to build the wall and end the three-week partial government shutdown, which has become the longest in U.S. history.”
“Despite previously unfruitful negotiations during the last round of shutdown talks, President Trump says he’s ripe to reopen the government — urging party leaders to return to Washington and vote for a wall, or barrier, or whatever they wish to call it — even ‘peaches,'” CNN reports
Said Trump: “This is where I ask the Democrats to come back to Washington and to vote for money for the wall, the barrier, whatever you want to call it, it’s OK with me.”
He added: “They can name it whatever. They can name it ‘peaches.’ I don’t care what they name it. But we need money for that barrier.”
President Trump “threw cold water on the idea of immediately declaring a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, reversing days of signals that he might soon declare the emergency amid a protracted standoff with Democrats over a partial shutdown of the federal government,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Trump: “What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency. I’m not going to do it so fast.”
“The president has defiantly said for days he might declare a national emergency to expedite construction of the wall — and his administration has asked agencies to begin preparations. But he has gotten sharp pushback, even from Republicans, at the notion of declaring such an emergency. His lawyers have privately warned that he could be on shaky footing with such a move.”
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A new University of Maryland survey finds only 4 in 10 Americans favor building a border wall.
“Fewer than half our respondents were persuaded by the argument that a wall would prevent potential threats from coming into the country and would strengthen U.S. borders. Nearly two-thirds, including 4 in 10 Republicans, were persuaded by the counterargument: Because migrants can always find alternative routes to crossing the border, there are better methods for deterring illegal entry.”
“Inside the West Wing, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been lobbying for restraint,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Declaring a national emergency, an option Mr. Trump has been leaning toward, shouldn’t be used to try to win a messaging war against Democrats opposed to a wall, Mr. Kushner said in a recent Oval Office meeting.”
“Instead, Mr. Kushner argued an emergency should be invoked only if it creates a clear path for the White House to build the wall, the key issue in the standoff between Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats that has led to the shutdown.”
President Trump “has been briefed on a plan that would use the Army Corps of Engineers and a portion of $13.9 billion of Army Corps funding to build 315 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border,” NBC News reports.
“The money was set aside to fund projects all over the country including storm-damaged areas of Puerto Rico through fiscal year 2020, but the checks have not been written yet and, under an emergency declaration, the president could take the money from these civil works projects and use it to build the border wall.”
Washington Post: “Trump has urged the Army Corps to determine how fast contracts could be signed and whether construction could begin within 45 days.”
“The Pentagon is preparing options to build barriers on the southern border in the event that President Trump declares a national emergency there, the latest indication such a move is gaining traction within the administration,” USA Today reports.
“The confirmation of the preparations comes after Trump on Thursday gave his most explicit warning yet that he was considering a declaration of a national emergency as a way of freeing up funds for a border wall if talks with Democrats fail to yield a deal on his signature issue.”
President Trump “admitted that Mexico would not directly pay for the construction of his proposed wall along the southern border. Instead, he claims the wall will be paid for by revenue gained from a new trade deal pending in Congress,” CNBC reports.
Said Trump: “When I said Mexico would pay for the wall in front of thousands and thousands of people … obviously I never meant Mexico would write a check.”
However, the Trump campaign released a memo in March 2016 explaining the multiple ways to “compel Mexico” to “make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion.”
President Trump said he “was likely to declare a national emergency to secure funds for his long-sought wall along the U.S. southern border if he cannot reach an agreement with Democrats in Congress to provide the money,” Reuters reports.
“If Trump were to declare an emergency in an effort to redirect funds Congress has approved for other purposes, it likely would lead to quick challenges in the courts.”
President Trump “has repeatedly advocated for a steel slat design for his border wall, which he described as ‘absolutely critical to border security’ in his Oval Office address to the nation Tuesday. But Department of Homeland Security testing of a steel slat prototype proved it could be cut through with a saw,” NBC News reports.
“A photo exclusively obtained by NBC News shows the results of the test after experts from the Marine Corps were instructed to attempt to destroy the barriers with common tools.”
Playbook: “There is an increasing recognition in the White House and among his most important allies on Capitol Hill that the only way for President Trump to get movement on his border wall is to figure out a way to build the barrier on his own. He thinks he has options — national emergency, other executive action — but it’s almost time to put a nail in the coffin of his congressional efforts.”
There is no deal with Dems to be had… All available public and private evidence tells us Trump’s talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are at a complete impasse, despite what some of his aides and allies seem to tell him. (People also convinced the president that he would have more leverage in January when Dems took the House!)”
“Trump is running up against a Democratic House that is doing exactly what it said it would do: block his wall. And he’s not going to split Schumer and Pelosi. There is no space between the two leaders on this issue.”
Washington Post: “Trump is so far flunking the biggest test of his dealmaking skills as president, learning the hard way that governing in a divided Washington is not remotely like running the Trump Organization or hosting The Apprentice.”