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: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10863104
Hinds10705207
Harrison7624114
Jackson6774131
Rankin6303114
Lee557798
Madison5311112
Forrest405587
Jones388589
Lauderdale3754149
Lafayette347358
Washington3421108
Lamar310350
Lowndes265168
Oktibbeha262763
Bolivar254686
Panola243754
Neshoba2333124
Marshall229451
Leflore216492
Monroe216278
Pontotoc213631
Lincoln203267
Sunflower198156
Warren189559
Tate187251
Union179626
Copiah176141
Pike170860
Pearl River168170
Itawamba166637
Scott166030
Yazoo164441
Alcorn161529
Coahoma160044
Prentiss159034
Simpson156954
Grenada149545
Adams148852
Leake146244
George138326
Covington137642
Holmes136861
Tippah135230
Winston134326
Hancock132842
Wayne127424
Attala126836
Marion126548
Tishomingo116444
Newton114929
Chickasaw112632
Tallahatchie101227
Clay98527
Clarke96954
Jasper90023
Stone85115
Calhoun82413
Montgomery80726
Walthall80430
Carroll78115
Lawrence76814
Smith76516
Yalobusha75728
Noxubee74817
Perry70127
Greene66023
Tunica64019
Amite61815
Jefferson Davis60818
Claiborne59716
Humphreys56119
Benton51018
Quitman5107
Kemper50019
Webster49514
Wilkinson42522
Jefferson39012
Franklin3866
Choctaw3757
Sharkey33517
Issaquena1254
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 264199

Reported Deaths: 3831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson35310515
Mobile20626372
Madison14521153
Tuscaloosa13897173
Montgomery12844246
Shelby1127878
Baldwin9501138
Lee807167
Morgan740555
Etowah704870
Marshall695358
Calhoun6939126
Houston559140
DeKalb521843
Cullman490650
St. Clair466557
Limestone462446
Lauderdale452257
Elmore440070
Walker3914112
Talladega386157
Jackson373523
Colbert347948
Blount323146
Autauga294542
Franklin265534
Coffee260023
Dale247355
Dallas236832
Chilton235445
Covington234834
Russell23433
Escambia208832
Tallapoosa192692
Chambers189154
Clarke165422
Pike165215
Marion150236
Winston146325
Lawrence139936
Pickens129720
Geneva12929
Marengo127824
Bibb127038
Barbour121729
Butler121142
Cherokee108224
Randolph108022
Fayette102216
Hale102132
Clay95527
Washington94222
Henry9097
Monroe85311
Lowndes82930
Cleburne80914
Macon77522
Crenshaw73830
Lamar7348
Conecuh73215
Bullock71120
Perry7037
Wilcox65918
Sumter60122
Greene45818
Choctaw43620
Coosa3854
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