Official White House Photos by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — As he left Thursday morning to head to the Texas border, President Donald Trump said he "probably … I would almost say definitely" declare a national emergency to get funding for a border wall if he can't reach a deal with congressional Democrats who flatly oppose a wall. "I would say 100 percent," the president continued. "I don't want to say 100% because maybe something else comes up."
While Trump said he'd rather make a deal, he again lashed out at Democrats on Day 20 of the government shutdown over the impasse, denied that he pounded on the Situation Room table and said he didn't "rant or rave" at the latest round of White House talks Wednesday before walking out. "I didn't raise my voice. That was a lie," Trump said.
"I don't have temper tantrums," the president said, pushing back on how Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had characterized how Trump had acted when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had again told him "no" when he asked whether Democrats would agree to wall funding if he re-opened the government.
The president also said China was more "honorable" in negotiations than the Democrats.
"We're negotiating and having tremendous success with China, and I find China, frankly, in many ways, to be far more honorable than Cryin' Chuck and Nancy. China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party," Trump said.
The White House has said the president's trip to Texas, part of his PR blitz for a border wall, is designed to allow him to meet with those individuals who are "on the front lines" of what they have called a "national security and humanitarian crisis."
Whether the president has the legal authority to build a wall through a national emergency declaration — in which he would circumvent Congress to get military funding for the project– is under review by White House lawyers.
"The lawyers have so advised me," Trump said. "I'm not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will. I have no doubt about it, I will. I have the absolute right to declare," Trump said. Later he added he has a "tremendous" amount of funds available if he chooses that route.
Should the president go forward with the move, it would almost certainly be challenged in court and some congressional Republicans strongly oppose the move.
The White House has struggled to make the case that there is, in fact, a crisis at the border, with the number of illegal apprehensions trending downward over the last two decades. But the administration points to an uptick of illegal border crossing apprehensions in recent months as evidence.
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.