Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump declares a national emergency (but admits it's fake) on SNL

"Saturday Night Live" roasts Donald Trump over admitting that there is no real emergency on the southern border

By Matthew Rozsa
Published February 17, 2019 10:00AM (EST)
Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live" (Will Heath/NBC)
Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live" (Will Heath/NBC)

"Saturday Night Live" roasted President Donald Trump on Saturday by having Alec Baldwin depict him as openly acknowledging that his recent declaration of a national emergency is "fake."

"You can all see why I gotta fake this national emergency, right? I have to because I want to," Baldwin's Trump said during the cold open. "It's really simple. We have a problem. Drugs are coming into this country through no wall."

Near the end of the sketch, Baldwin's Trump had another line intended to give away that the president realizes his declaration of a national emergency is a sham.

"In conclusion, this is a total emergency, a five-alarm blaze. Which means I’ve got to go to Mar-a-Lago so I can play some golf," Baldwin's Trump tells the White House reporters.

The sketch also had a number of gags that pokes fun at Trump's tendency to racially stereotype. These included aborted attempts to impersonate Chinese President Xi Jinping and former President Barack Obama (for being Chinese and African American, respectively), an actual impersonation of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (for being Jewish) and a gag about how the people around him insist that he not refer to the US-Mexico border as "the thin brown line." Yet perhaps the most memorable gag of the sketch was when Baldwin's Trump went on a rambling monologue detailing the most likely outcome of his national emergency declaration:

And the ruling will not go in my favor. And then it’ll end up in the Supreme Court. And then I’ll call my buddy Kavanaugh. And I’ll say, it’s time to repay the Donny. And he’ll say, ‘New phone, who dis?’ And then the Mueller report will be released. Crumbling my house of cards. And I can just plead insanity... and my personal hell of playing president will finally be over.

There are several elements of truth in the "Saturday Night Live" version of Trump's national emergency reality. During his Friday press conference defending the declaration of a national emergency, Trump told reporters that "I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster." According to George Conway — a conservative attorney who has frequently criticized the president despite the fact that he is married to Kellyanne Conway, Trump's counselor to the president — "this quote should be the first sentence of the first paragraph of every complaint filed this afternoon."

Indeed, it is already expected that a number of groups are going to challenge the constitutionality of Trump's national emergency in court, with Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issuing a joint statement on Friday declaring that "this is plainly a power grab by a disappointed president, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process."

Trump's plan could also backfire on Republicans. If a Democrat becomes president after the 2020 election, he or she could easily use the same logic utilized by Trump to justify a border wall in order to achieve their own controversial policy goals.

"It's one of the many conundrums of being a Republican under the Trump administration," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., told Salon last week. "He has such a grip on the base of the party that I think many of my colleagues are obliged to go against deeply held beliefs and principles of many, many years, and it is a very unusual position for them to be in. But if it turns out to be a precedent, it could be a very powerful tool for the next Democratic president to address emergencies that have caused much more loss of life and portends much direr consequences, like domestic mass shootings or climate change like the Green New Deal."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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