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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.

Confirmed Cases: 36287

Reported Deaths: 1249
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds299254
DeSoto195920
Madison148439
Jones122449
Harrison117716
Rankin112619
Neshoba104677
Forrest103843
Lauderdale96681
Scott82415
Jackson79819
Washington73713
Copiah67016
Leake63420
Lee62822
Oktibbeha61928
Grenada6049
Warren60021
Holmes59541
Lamar5837
Wayne56519
Yazoo5607
Lowndes54817
Leflore53456
Lincoln53335
Lafayette5064
Pike50520
Sunflower5048
Monroe46135
Panola4546
Covington4465
Simpson4433
Bolivar41218
Tate39213
Attala38624
Newton37610
Adams35820
Pontotoc3556
Marion34512
Claiborne30811
Pearl River30332
Winston30111
Chickasaw30019
Marshall2923
Jasper2816
Noxubee2799
Walthall2708
Clay26111
Union25412
Smith25212
Coahoma2306
Clarke22325
Lawrence2132
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18211
Montgomery1793
Calhoun1705
Humphreys16910
Hancock14813
Itawamba1478
Tippah14611
Webster13411
Jefferson1283
Prentiss1274
Jefferson Davis1254
Tunica1253
George1233
Greene11610
Amite1123
Alcorn1072
Tishomingo1061
Quitman1011
Wilkinson989
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
Clay852
Fayette851
Coosa661
Cleburne451
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