President Donald Trump warned that he would "most likely" declare a national emergency to build his "wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border, suggesting to Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would make a decision "over the next few days."
In an "exclusive" interview Thursday night with Hannity, Trump said he would likely declare an emergency if he could not reach a deal with congressional Democrats for funding to begin construction. The budget impasse over border wall funding has resulted in a government shutdown that appears to have no end in sight.
"If we don't make a deal with Congress, most likely I will do that," Trump told Hannity during his visit to the border at McAllen, Texas. "I would actually say, 'I would.'"
"I can't imagine any reason why not, because I'm allowed to do it," he added. "The law is 100 percent on my side."
Trump expressed similar certainty to reporters before leaving for Texas, saying at the White House that he could almost say "definitely" that he would declare the emergency. Trump was less clear about when he would make the call, although he suggested to Hannity that it could be soon.
"We're going to see what happens over the next few days. They should do it immediately," Trump said, referring to Democrats in Congress who have not agreed to the president's demand of $5.7 billion for the wall.
"Look, we're not going anywhere," he continued. "We're not changing our minds."
Hannity, who acts as an informal adviser to the president, reportedly consulted with Trump ahead of the commander in chief's Oval Office address earlier this week. During the president's trip to the border, Hannity allegedly "huddled with" White House communications director Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive who was ousted from the network amidst a sexual harassment scandal, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen — instead of standing with the press corps. Hannity, however, is known to blur the lines between the two roles; still, he touted his "exclusive" interview with Trump during his show Thursday night.
During their conversation, Hannity argued against the notion that the president has "manufactured" the "crisis" at the border, which the Fox News host claimed Democrats in Congress and their "best friends" in the mainstream media believe. Bolstered by Hannity, Trump replied, "That's the real collusion, because they all use the exact same term." It's not a "manufactured crisis," he further argued, but rather a "manufactured soundbite."
Unlike those so-called members of the mainstream media, Trump assured Hannity, "You're not fake news, you're real news." Hannity chuckled, appearing to let out a sigh of relief.
As of this writing, the government shutdown is on its 21st day. It is the currently tied for the longest shutdown in the U.S. and appears positioned to make history on Jan. 12, as negotiations to reopen the nine federal agencies, which have been shut down since Dec. 22, continue to stall. The longest government shutdown on record lasted from Dec. 5, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1995, when House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, and President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, faced off over taxes.
Trump, for his part, previously admitted the reason the federal government remains only partially operational is because of his ego, confessing that he would "look foolish" if he allowed the government to reopen while wall funding was being negotiated, as hundreds of thousands of federal workers continue to work without a paycheck. He has not spent the majority of the shutdown negotiating an end game, instead blaming Democrats for a shutdown he previously said he was proud to own.
"I am proud to shut down the government for border security . . . I will be the one to shut [the government] down," Trump famously said last month. "I'm not going to blame you for it."
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers have had to look for other jobs as they face the reality of missing paychecks and the influence that will have on their lives.