Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Thursday came out against a proposal for President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“I don’t want to see a declaration of national emergency, I think that’s an action that would be taken in the most extreme circumstances, and hopefully we don’t reach that,” Romney told MSNBC host Kasie Hunt on Thursday.
"I don't want to see a declaration of national emergency, I think that's an action that would be taken in the most extreme circumstances, and hopefully we don’t reach that," @MittRomney tells me, joining other Republicans discouraging POTUS from taking that route
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) January 10, 2019
Ahead of his visit to Texas Thursday, President Trump told reporters that he is seriously considering an emergency declaration if Democrats continue to block legislation allotting $5.7 billion for a southern border wall. “I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. I haven’t done it yet,” the president said. “If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it, I would almost say definitely.”
In a recent interview with KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic show, Romney called on the White House and Democrat leadership to reach a bipartisan agreement on wall funding which to end the government shutdown, now it isn’t 21st day. “The right approach is for there to be some kind of deal that can be done where both sides get something that they feel is important,” said the freshman senator. “But I don’t see movement to suggest that’s about to happen.”
The Utah Republican expressed support for president’s position on building a wall, stating it “makes all the sense in the world.”
“[President Trump] has staked out his position and he wants to build a border barrier. That’s something I concur with, by the way,” he noted.
Romney also warned a national emergency declared by President Trump could set a president for future Democrat administrations to do the same for left-wing causes. “And I think we Republicans will be concerned that this kind of approach could be used by perhaps a Democrat president in the future, and that’s not something we want to see either,” he argued.
While he did not propose for the president trade DACA for border wall funding, Romney argued that the time had come to address the issue, which would grant legal status to children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.
“We’re not going to throw them out of the country, so there’s ground here to reach an outcome that’s good for both parties and that’s good for the country,” said Romney.
Romney quickly set himself apart from other Republicans in the new Congress with a blistering attack on President Trump’s leadership and character.
Romney put to rest expectations that he would take his time getting his footing in Washington. Instead, in a Washington Post opinion-editorial published two days before he was sworn into office, Romney said the president’s “conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
In a Twitter response, President Trump said he hoped Romney wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who often criticized the president and paid the price, opting to retire rather than risk defeat in a GOP primary in 2018.
“Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful,” the president tweeted. “I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
Romney’s remarks prompted swift backlash from allies of the president in the Republican Party — including his own niece, Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.
McDaniel retweeted Trump’s remarks about Romney and added that the president is constantly “attacked and obstructed” by the media and Democrats.
“For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack” Trump @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive,” McDaniel tweeted.
Romney, who was soundly defeated by President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, heavily criticized then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race, describing him as a “con man,” and a “fake.” “Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark,” he said in the same speech. However, in a show of unity, president-elect Trump put aside Romney’s criticism, and interviewed him for the position of Secretary of State, a job which ultimately was given to former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. During the 2018 midterm election, President Trump supported Romney, an endorsement Romney gladly accepted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.