Reporters press Sanders on border wall funding

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says President Trump has asked his cabinet secretaries to identify funding that can be used to build his border wall.

Posted: Dec 19, 2018 10:45 AM
Updated: Dec 19, 2018 11:14 AM

Eight days ago, President Donald Trump had this to say about the possibility of a government shutdown if Congress didn't give him $5 billion to begin construction on his border wall:

"I tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down it didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting down and I'm going to shut it down for border security."

On Wednesday morning, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway sounded a very different note, suggesting that if Congress passed a short-term resolution to keep the government open then Trump would "take a look at that certainly." Added Conway: "A short term [continuing resolution] -- or a CR that goes through February 8 keeps the government up and running but that doesn't mean the President is backing down from an essential promise, not a campaign promise, a promise as President of the United States and our commander in chief to keep us safe."

Uh.......

Trump himself sounded a similarly defensive -- and nonsensical -- note in a tweet on Wednesday. "Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA!" tweeted the President. "Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!"

This is a classic case of overcompensation.

In order to convince you -- and themselves -- that Trump's willingness to sign a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown isn't a capitulation of his former tough talk about doing whatever it takes to get funding for the border wall, both the President and Conway are suggesting that who you see and what you hear isn't actually true.

Trump is going to get the wall money! And no matter what, Mexico is going to pay for it! Somehow!

At the moment, neither of those things are true. The truth? Trump made a promise -- and kept reiterating a promise -- he is now going back on.

And his backing down this time has real consequences. Remember that Democrats take control of the House come January. Which means that the next time we have a government funding fight like this, it will be with divided government. And it's VERY hard to see how Trump will get the $5 billion+ he wants for a border wall with Democrats in charge in the House. Heck, he hasn't been able to get the money he wanted for the wall over the last two years, with Republicans in charge of everything!

Go back to the spring. Congress was, yet again, bumping up against a hard deadline to either fund the government or have it shut down. Trump had pledged to sign no new omnibus spending bill that didn't include substantial funding for his border wall. Even after the legislation had been largely agreed to by Congress -- without the expenditure Trump wanted for the wall -- he threatened to veto it via tweet.

"I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded," he wrote.

That turned out to be an empty threat -- as Trump eventually signed the omnibus bill. But when he did so, he issued another threat for the next shutdown showdown to come in the fall.

"I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again," Trump said at the time. "Nobody read it. It's only hours old. ... (It's) the second-largest ever. President Obama signed one that was actually larger, which I'm sure he wasn't too happy with either."

In the run-up to this latest deadline, which was initially December 7 before Congress -- wait for it -- passed a two-week extension, Trump and Republican congressional leaders were resolute that either Trump got the money he wanted for the wall or the government shut down.

"I am firm" on the necessity of securing the wall funding, Trump told Politico in an interview late last month. He noted:

"I don't do anything ... just for political gain. But I will tell you, politically speaking, that issue is a total winner. People look at the border, they look at the rush to the police, they look at the rock throwers and really hurting three people, three very brave Border Patrol folks — I think that it's a tremendous issue, but much more importantly, is really needed. So we have to have border security."

And yet, as the deadline -- midnight Friday -- approaches, Trump appears to be ready to blink. Again.

Which is fascinating given not just his rhetoric over the last few months on the necessity of the wall but how central the construction of the wall was to his victory in the Republican presidential primary process in 2016.

Without his promise to build a wall along the country's southern border -- and make Mexico pay for it -- there likely would never have been a "President Donald Trump." The wall became a stand-in for everything Trump supporters loved about him: A willingness to talk tough, to buck political correctness and to stand up for Americans. Aside from the "lock her up" chants directed at Hillary Clinton, the "build that wall" cheer was the largest and loudest rallying cry at nearly every Trump campaign rally in 2016.

And now, almost certainly, Trump will, again, go back on that pledge. Despite insisting that after the last time he went back on the pledge he would never do it again.

Whoops!

Does Trump's likely (re)capitulation on wall funding have any measurable political impact among his political base? The easy answer is "no" -- because, as the last two years have shown, almost nothing has any measurable political impact on Trump's base. They appear to be with him no matter what, entirely unaffected by outside events.

If -- and this is a big and shaky "if" -- there ever was an issue that made Trump's base (or a part of it) rethink its support for him, the inability of the President to wring the money needed for the wall out of Congress might be it. It is a foundational principle of Trumpism that Trump just keeps doing very un-Trump things about: Like giving in. Again. And this time with the real possibility that there will never be as good a chance to get even close to the amount of money out of Congress that Trump insists is necessary to build the wall.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 315026

Reported Deaths: 7257
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21684260
Hinds20385416
Harrison17973309
Rankin13650278
Jackson13456246
Madison10130217
Lee9988174
Jones8388163
Forrest7701152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6411148
Lamar624686
Lafayette6210119
Washington5342134
Bolivar4804132
Oktibbeha463298
Panola4601107
Pearl River4524146
Marshall4454103
Warren4397121
Pontotoc421172
Monroe4120133
Union411276
Neshoba4033176
Lincoln3972110
Hancock380287
Leflore3500125
Sunflower336490
Tate335484
Pike3330105
Scott316773
Alcorn313670
Yazoo311870
Itawamba300877
Copiah297865
Coahoma295979
Simpson295388
Tippah289068
Adams288682
Prentiss280360
Marion269680
Leake268673
Wayne262941
Grenada261987
Covington260381
George249448
Newton246963
Winston227881
Tishomingo227567
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208457
Holmes189174
Clay185654
Stone183033
Tallahatchie179041
Clarke178180
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164838
Smith162734
Walthall134345
Greene130633
Lawrence129324
Montgomery127242
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121929
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107233
Tunica105726
Claiborne102530
Benton100125
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67631
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540267

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798791529
Mobile41295809
Madison35175506
Tuscaloosa25932455
Shelby25309249
Montgomery24736593
Baldwin21422310
Lee15997172
Calhoun14577319
Morgan14431280
Etowah13927353
Marshall12280225
Houston10650282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10075151
St. Clair9955245
Cullman9773194
Lauderdale9465243
DeKalb8866188
Talladega8344176
Walker7261278
Autauga7010108
Jackson6840112
Blount6776139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5583118
Dale4878113
Russell445938
Chilton4383113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia395177
Chambers3598123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303698
Winston275873
Bibb264864
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219069
Fayette213162
Henry190043
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178241
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153657
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140753
Wilcox127430
Bullock123342
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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