Trump will "probably" declare national emergency absent a deal in Congress

By Kathryn Watson

/ CBS News

Trump says he'll "probably" declare national emergency if Congress doesn't reach deal

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."

Mr. Trump is heading to a U.S. Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, and then on to the Rio Grande for a briefing. The New York Times reported Mr. Trump told journalists in an off-the-record meeting earlier this week that he didn't see the point in going to the border.

Trump traveling to southern border, leaving behind shutdown acrimony

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.

I continue to stress that there is no good reason for a shutdown. The reality is thousands of federal employees & contractors have no paycheck in sight, small businesses that rely on them are suffering & there’s no reason they should be held hostage to a political dispute. pic.twitter.com/VBMNUACU78

— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) January 9, 2019

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!"

First published on January 10, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kathryn Watson

Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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