In an interview with The New York Times in the Oval Office on Thursday evening, Trump said wall negotiations are a "waste of time," in the wake of the government shutdown that arose over disagreements on border wall funding. Per the publication, Trump claimed that "Nancy Pelosi is hurting our country very badly by doing what she's doing," but he also didn't say he was going to shut down the government again. Instead, he indicated that he has another plan in the works.
Trump said via The New York Times that he had "set the table very nicely."
"I've set the table," he added. "I've set the stage for doing what I'm going to do."
Though POTUS didn't further clarify his meaning, there's a clear implication in his words: As president, he has the power to declare a national emergency in order to secure funding to build the wall. Perhaps even more tellingly, his interview came a few hours after Pelosi announced that there would be no "wall money in the legislation" to keep the government open, per CNN.
Though Trump covered a wide array of topics during his interview, he spent considerable time condemning the political behavior of Pelosi. He said in part, "I’ve actually always gotten along with her, but now I don’t think I will anymore."
Trump also vehemently confirmed that the wall would be built, no matter what, which is a belief that he has held throughout his presidency. He said to The New York Times, “I’ll continue to build the wall and we’ll get the wall finished,” he said. “Now whether or not I declare a national emergency — that you’ll see.”
There are two weeks until the Feb. 15 government shutdown deadline, in which a new spending deal has to be passed otherwise the government will shut down again. As The New York Times explains, Trump will likely take action at that point, after these government spending talks officially end.
A president has the authority to declare a national emergency based on his or her discretion, as The Washington Post notes. In the history of the United States, the publication explains, national emergencies have been declared in times of profound danger or duress, including the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.
This doesn't necessarily mean that they're incredibly rare; per The Washington Post, Bill Clinton declared 17 emergencies, and Obama declared 13 emergencies.
So although Trump is fully within his means to declare a national emergency, the question is whether or not Congress has to approve his requested allocation of additional funds, for a project like the wall. There isn't a clear answer to that question, which is why it's likely that Trump would receive some legal and legislative pushback.
Though Trump's interview with The New York Times did cover a number of significant political topics, it also covered a more intimate one: his own enjoyment of his position. Trump said, “I love this job."
He explained further, "I lost massive amounts of money doing this job. This is not the money. This is one of the great losers of all time. You know, fortunately, I don’t need money."