President Donald Trump offered a pessimistic assessment Thursday of congressional negotiations over border security funding and suggested he is ready to move forward with construction of his long-promised border wall without the consent of lawmakers.
In a spate of morning tweets, Trump wrote that Republicans involved in bipartisan House-Senate negotiations that began Wednesday are “wasting their time.”
“Democrats, despite all of the evidence, proof and Caravans coming, are not going to give money to build the DESPERATELY needed WALL,” he wrote on Twitter. “Wall is already being built, I don’t expect much help!”
His tweets – which included a false assertion that large sections of the wall have already been built – came a day after Democrats unveiled a new border security plan that contains no new money for physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico divide.
The Democrats’ proposal was their opening bid in negotiations aimed at coming up with a deal to keep the government open when temporary funding runs out Feb. 15. Trump is insisting that funding for a wall or barrier be a significant part of the package crafted by negotiators.
Trump has previously threatened that if Congress does not provide the $5.7 billion in funding he is seeking, he could declare a national emergency that would allow the military to construct a border wall without congressional consent.
Such a move, which several leading Republicans have cautioned against, would almost certainly draw legal challenges.
In earlier tweets Thursday, Trump cited a sharp increase in the murder rate in Mexico last year as he insisted the southern border wall would be constructed “one way or the other.”
“With Murders up 33% in Mexico, a record, why wouldn’t any sane person want to build a Wall!” Trump said in one of his tweets. “Construction has started and will not stop until it is finished.”
Earlier this month, Mexico’s Interior Ministry released figures showing investigators opened to 33,341 murder probes in 2018 compared with the previous year’s record of 25,036 in a country ravaged by drug cartels.
“This is a big contributor to the Humanitarian Crises taking place on our Southern Border and then spreading throughout our Country,” Trump asserted. “Worse even than Afghanistan. Much caused by DRUGS. Wall is being built!”
In another of his tweets, Trump seemed to backtrack from an earlier position that something other than the physical wall he long promised could be constructed at the border, such as “steel slats.”
“Lets just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!” Trump said.
Several White House aides have previously accused Democrats of being hung up on terminology. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, for example, has said Democrats have sought to turn “wall” into a “four-letter word” in order to build opposition to Trump’s border-security plans.
Trump also repeated a false assertion Thursday that “large sections of WALL have already been built.”
Although there has been some addition and replacement of fencing and other barriers since Trump took office, none of that is based on the prototypes that he commissioned to fulfill his marquee campaign promise.
“Renovation of existing WALLS is also a very big part of the plan to finally, after many decades, properly Secure Our Border,” Trump also wrote. “The Wall is getting done one way or the other!”
Writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.