President Donald Trump blatantly misquoted House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on Monday to claim that he has the authority to declare a national emergency for the purpose of building his wall.
Trump threatened to declare a national emergency in the name of national security to build his wall along the southern border while speaking to reporters over the weekend.
“Absolutely, we could call a national emergency because of the security of our country,” he said. “I haven’t done it. I may do it. I may do it. But we could call a national emergency and build it very quickly.”
The claim that he can declare a national emergency to build a wall has been widely criticized by legal scholars and lawmakers alike because there is no real emergency and Trump would have to use Pentagon funding, which would violate Congress’ power of the purse.
But Trump attempted to argue he has that power by deliberately misquoting Smith on Twitter Monday.
Congressman Adam Smith, the new Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, just stated, “Yes, there is a provision in law that says a president can declare an emergency. It’s been done a number of times.” No doubt, but let’s get our deal done in Congress!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2019
The problem is that Trump apparently did not read the rest of Smith’s statement.
“I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, ‘Where is the emergency?’ Smith went on to say during an interview with ABC. “You have to establish that in order to do this,” Smith continued. “But beyond that, this would be a terrible use of Department of Defense dollars.”
Here’s the video via Twitter.
I joined @ThisweekABC to discuss the government shutdown and the President’s plan to declare a nat’l emergency to pay for his proposed border wall. He is shutting down the gov’t to break his signature campaign promise – that taxpayers weren’t going to have to pay for the wall. pic.twitter.com/oglk7azYKA
— Rep. Adam Smith (@RepAdamSmith) January 6, 2019
So, while Trump can declare a national emergency, he can only do so during an actual emergency, which is not the case here.
Everything Trump has said about the border, his wall and immigration in order to create the illusion that there’s an emergency have been debunked as lies.
Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig told MSNBC on Sunday that Trump lacks the constitutional power to declare an emergency in this case.
“Constitutionally, he would not have the power to do wants he wants to do,” he said. “He says we have a national crisis, a national security crisis. A national emergency. I agree we have a national emergency, but the emergency is this president. “I think, ultimately, he has no constitutional authority to exercise the power to build without Congress’ approval.”
And Smith’s House colleague Rep. Adam Schiff explained by giving a prime example of why Trump would lose if he did try to declare an emergency.
“I make of that really threatening talk from the president that he doesn’t have the power to execute,” Schiff said. “Look, if Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multibillion-dollar wall on the border. So, that’s a nonstarter.”
Misquoting a Democrat in a blatant attempt to mislead the American people is outrageous and makes Trump look more desperate as his government shutdown drags on into its third week. He could sign a bill right now to end it, but he would rather continue lying about his wall rather than admit that no crisis exists.
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