President Donald Trump offered plenty of red meat to his hardcore Republican base when he reiterated his demand for a southern border wall during his 2019 State of the Union address. And CNN is reporting that according to two sources, Trump met with contractors at the White House the day before that February 5 speech to discuss building a wall.
CNN’s report shows just how obsessed Trump continues to be with the construction of a border wall: one of CNN’s sources told reporter Jim Acosta that on February 4, Trump told a group of supporters that he would like to paint a section of the current border fencing in San Diego—the part that meets the Pacific Ocean. But Trump, according to CNN, complained that he was told by a general that painting that area of border fencing might not be possible and could harm the environment. According to the adviser Acosta spoke to, Trump didn’t like the way that section of border fencing looked and complained because it had some graffiti.
The February 4 meeting follows meetings last week with contractors and senior advisor Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, in which the wall was discussed.
These meetings, along with Trump’s comments on border security during his State of the Union address, indicate that the president is still quite determined to see a wall built along the U.S./Mexico border — although it remains to be seen exactly how he would bring that about. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is adamant in her opposition to building a border wall, but Trump has stressed that if Congress will not set aside $5.7 billion for the project, he might bypass Congress and have one built by declaring a national emergency. Some conservatives and libertarians have responded that doing so would set a dangerous precedent and encourage a future Democratic president to declare a state of emergency and bypass Congress in order to push through a Democratic priority — be it actions on climate change or health care reform.
After a partial shutdown of the federal government that lasted five weeks, Trump and Congress agreed to a plan that reopens the government until February 15. And Trump has threatened that when February 15 arrives, he will either shut down the government again or declare a national emergency if Congress does not agree to fund a border wall.