Trump threatens national emergency as negotiations at standstill

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Democrats and Republicans are seeking a way to reopen the government as the president signals he may take extreme action to achieve his campaign promise.

President Donald Trump on Thursday gave the strongest signal yet that he will declare a national emergency in an effort to secure billions of dollars for a border wall, as negotiations on Capitol Hill to reopen the federal government continue to flounder.

The possible move by Trump would almost certainly trigger an immediate response from House Democratic leaders, who could pursue both congressional and legal avenues to try to halt such unprecedented action. It’s one of the few options left at the table after Trump rejected the work of Senate Republicans hoping they can craft a procedural framework that would allow the government to reopen and then immediately turn to an immigration debate.

An emergency declaration by Trump could also end the partial government shutdown if congressional leaders agree to reopen shuttered agencies and let the border wall drama play out in the courts.

“I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on his way to McAllen, Texas, adding that his lawyers advised him that he could. “If this doesn’t work out…I would almost say definitely.”

Vice President Mike Pence closed off the move by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and other GOP senators to come up with an agreement to end the shutdown, showing how hard it is to get the White House on the same page as other Republicans. Pence publicly shot down the idea and also privately relayed to Senate Republicans that Trump will not reopen the government until he gets a solution on the wall.

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