Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned President Trump privately this week about the consequences of declaring a national emergency to build his border wall, telling him the move could trigger political blowback and divide the GOP, according to two Republicans with knowledge of the exchange.
McConnell (R-Ky.) told Trump that Congress might end up passing a resolution disapproving the emergency declaration, the people said — which would force the president to contemplate issuing his first veto ever, in the face of opposition from his own party.
McConnell delivered the message during a face-to-face meeting with the president Tuesday at the White House, according to the Republicans, who requested anonymity to describe the encounter. The two men met alone and conversed with no aides present. Their meeting was not publicly announced.
The majority leader’s comments to the president came amid rising GOP concerns over the fallout if Trump were to declare a national emergency that would allow him to circumvent Congress and use the military to build new stretches of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump increasingly appears prepared to take that route, saying Friday that “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to do that.”
Trump teased the possibility of making a definitive statement on the topic during his State of the Union address, telling reporters to watch the Tuesday speech closely. “I think you’ll find it very exciting,” the president said.
And Trump again dismissed chances that he’ll get the $5.7 billion in wall funding he wants from a bipartisan congressional committee charged with producing a border security solution that could forestall another government shutdown. The committee is working to come up with a deal that could pass before Feb. 15, when a stopgap spending bill will expire if there is no action by Congress and Trump.