Saturday on Fox News Channel’s “Justice,” President Donald Trump blamed congressional Democrats for the current shutdown based on their opposition to a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Trump called it “bad politics for them,” and said he was still open to the possibility of declaring a “national emergency.”
Partial transcript as follows:
PIRRO: Is there an emergency at the southern border? Should we not now use the emergency funds and the powers that you have in your possession?
TRUMP: So, we have a humanitarian crisis, to put it mildly. People are trying to get in by the tens of thousands. They’re rushing the border. There’s right now in Honduras — a country we pay a lot of money to, I think foolishly because they don’t help us. But right now, you have another caravan forming, and it’s going to be the biggest one yet.
We stopped the last one. You see what’s going on in Tijuana. They couldn’t get through because we have a wall there.
We got a wall up. The military’s been fantastic, Border Patrol has been incredible, and ICE is, you know, these are brave people that do a great job. And we stopped them.
But there’s another big one forming. We need a wall, very simple. Whether you call it a steel barrier, wall, it doesn’t matter, but we need a very strong structure.
PIRRO: But by waiting to build the wall using those funds that are available to you in a national emergency, aren’t you negating the point of the emergency itself?
TRUMP: Well, I have the absolute right to call a national emergency. Other presidents have called many national emergencies for things of lesser importance, frankly, than this. And I have the right to do it.
I’d rather see the Democrats come back from their vacation and act. They’re not acting, and they’re the ones that are holding it up. It would take me 15 minutes to get a deal done, and everybody could go back to work. But I’d like to see them act responsibly, and they’re not acting responsibly, and that’s it.
We could be — I’m in the White House, and most of them are in different locations. They’re watching a certain musical in a very nice location and —
PIRRO: Of course, in Puerto Rico watching “Hamilton.”
TRUMP: — frankly, it’s ridiculous. The whole thing is ridiculous.
We have a very important thing to do. We have to have border security, and we have to get people getting paid again very quickly.
PIRRO: But what about, as this happens, hook, you were in the White House — look, you were in the White House during the Christmas holidays and over New Year’s, and you’ve been there ever since. Nancy Pelosi’s in Hawaii over the holidays. Now she’s in Puerto Rico with a bunch of Democrats and lobbyists, you know, enjoying the sun and partying down there.
But what makes you think that these people are willing to cut a deal? If you have shown your ability to negotiate by changing to a slat, agreeing to all of their demands as it relates to, you know, technology, electronic fencing and all of the other things, the humanitarian aid, they sit there. They don’t even look you in the eye. What makes you think that they’re going to in any way cave?
Because if these people said 13 and then, again, six years ago, we need a wall, we need a wall, but now, you’re the president, they don’t want a wall. What makes you think they’re coming back?
TRUMP: Well, they might not. I mean, you know, frankly, I was willing to do something, and we’re asking for $5.6 billion, which is way less than what other presidents have been talking about.
You know, if you look back, this should have been done 30 years ago, 20 years ago, ten years ago. This should have been done by others. Just like if you look at Jerusalem, if you look at the embassy moving to Jerusalem, every president promised that, they never did it. I did it.
If you look at so many other things that I’ve done — we’re going well with a lot of — you know, we’re doing well with China. We’re doing well with North Korea. We’re doing — you know, I was left a very tough hand.
But this was one of the problems. It’s our southern border. And it’s, you know, thousands and thousands of people are coming in, and we have human smugglers, we have traffickers, we have people — the biggest drug dealers in the world. And they’re pouring through the parts of the border — they don’t go through your areas that are port of entry, Jeanine.
PIRRO: Ports of entry.
TRUMP: They go through areas where you don’t have any protection whatsoever. And it’s really very sad and very, very dangerous and very bad for our country. A lot of crime comes from that location.
PIRRO: You know, I interviewed Ron Vitiello, the acting director of ICE, and he said that there was enough fentanyl seized by them last year that could kill every American in this country. We know that 90 percent of the heroin comes through the southern border, and, you know, what we also know is that, or you know, there are 800,000 federal employees who didn’t get a check yesterday.
You’re sitting there waiting for a deal. The Democrats are not sitting with you. If this isn’t an emergency, I don’t know what is.
TRUMP: Well, I haven’t actually left the White House in months. And in all fairness, I’m doing a lot of other work. It’s not just that, but that’s a very important element of what I’m doing, because we have to get the southern border done. And I’ve been here virtually every night. I guess every night other than one day I flew to Iraq and then to Germany to see our troops.
TRUMP: And it was great. To see them, it was great. The level of love they have for this country is incredible.
So I flew and then came back. I’m not even sure I actually missed a night, per se. But basically, I’ve been here for many months in the White House. And I — you know, I’m a worker.
PIRRO: I know you —
TRUMP: I’m like you, I’m a worker.
PIRRO: You are a worker.
TRUMP: And, frankly, I’m ready, willing and able to get a deal done. But they don’t — they think it’s politics. I think it’s bad politics.
This country wants to have protection at the border. Many of our crimes, much — MS-13 comes through the border, drugs, a big proportion of the drugs from, you know, that we have from this country — in this country come through the border. The human trafficking where they tie women up, they put duct tape over their mouth —
TRUMP: — electrical tape and they bring them, and they traffic in women and children, and they come through the border, the areas that I’m talking about putting a wall. We do that. It can’t happen anymore.
It’s unbelievable. It’s only politics. That’s the game they’re playing. I actually think it’s bad politics for them.
PIRRO: So then, you know, when Nancy Pelosi won, you very warmly in November congratulated her, and are you still confident you can get a deal done with her, or has that ship sailed?
TRUMP: No idea. No idea. Well, we won also. You know, we won the Senate.
PIRRO: Right, right.
TRUMP: And, you know, there are those that would say that the Senate is more important. And, for the most part, I campaigned for the Senate.
TRUMP: And we got very little credit. Like even you — you just said they won, we won the Senate. We actually picked up additional seats.
PIRRO: You did, yes.
TRUMP: We beat incumbents, Democrat, and almost everywhere I went, we won.
But, you know, I’m one person, and the House had many races, and yet we won some great races where I went. But we won the Senate, Jeanine, we picked up two additional seats. It’s 53-47.
TRUMP: It was 51-49.
PIRRO: All right. So for the last time, given that they don’t want to seem to come to the table, that you have done all the negotiating, why not declare? There’s —
TRUMP: Well, that might happen. But I want to give them a chance to see if they can act responsibly.
TRUMP: They should act responsibly. We’re talking about the border, and I have to say a lot of the people that aren’t getting their checks are letting us know we don’t care, you’ve got to solve the crisis at the border.
It’s a humanitarian crisis, and it’s national security. It’s very important.
PIRRO: OK. And it’s interesting, that’s what I heard yesterday from some of the Border Patrol agents.
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