As the bipartisan conference committee carries on discussing immigration and border security behind closed doors, the Trump White House is already making plans to deal with the outcome—by ignoring it and declaring history’s slowest national emergency. At the same time, Republicans are trying to decide if they’re tired enough of Trump to tell him just where to stick his misuse of the National Emergency Act. And the answer might be yes.
Trump has made himself clear. Or, at least, clear-ish, considering that his commitment to any position seems fixed with the resolute firmness of marshmallow fluff. As Congress sat down in its conference committee in hopes of heading off a repeat of Trump’s economy-crippling shutdown, he let it be known that he wanted them to emerge with a wall and only a wall. Nothing less, and nothing more. It says something about Donald Trump’s actual experience at negotiation that his instructions amounted to “Take a couple of weeks, and come back when you agree with me.” It also says something about his confidence in controlling the situation that he’s already moving ahead as if it will fail.
As Politico reports, the Trump White House is moving forward with plans to declare an emergency as soon as the inevitable “no wall” answer emerges from committee. Trump has been conducting not-so-secret meetings with acting chief of staff, head of the Office of Management and Budget, chief cook, and bottle-washer Mick Mulvaney in a search for the right place from which to steal funds when Congress says no. White House lawyers have also been involved with the meetings, but whether they’ve let Trump know that he needs to include funds for a new atomic clock—for measuring the infinitely short time between when he issues his proclamation and when it is enjoined by a federal judge—isn’t known.
Team Trump certainly understands that his actions are unlikely to survive any form of legal challenge. It’s why it’s been on the line seeding every alt-right outlet with talking points on how the action will be so very legal. Trump’s White House staff members have also been moving among Republican groups, trying to build support. They want to be sure that when Trump stands up to say that the lowest level of traffic across the border since the Nixon administration requires an extraordinary kick to the face of democracy, the same people who have walked away from every position the party ever held to support Trump will understand that Trump is the only thing they have left.
Trump’s Congress-defying prep hasn’t gone without notice. It was certainly intended to be noticed. But it’s not intimidating Democrats, and it’s increasingly irritating Republicans.