Trump: I'm not declaring a national emergency "right now"

I have no idea what the strategy is at this point. Literally no one in Congress is claiming that there’s a feasible compromise in the works. Unless he’s waiting until tomorrow to issue the order so that he can claim he set the shutdown record, there’s no endgame left except squeezing people who depend on federal money for as long as possible in hopes that they’ll stick it to Chuck and Nancy instead of to Republicans.

“What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency,” [Trump] said Friday afternoon, surrounded by law enforcement officials at a White House roundtable. “I’m not going to do it so fast.”…

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who talks frequently with Trump, said that he expected the president to take that step in a matter of “days, not weeks” but that it was unclear whether doing so would lead to a full reopening of government…

Pelosi said Friday that Democrats have not felt any political pressure to give in to Trump’s wall demands.

“No, except to stay firm,” she said.

Meadows and Lindsey Graham have been egging him on via Twitter to declare a national emergency too. To this point, I assumed they were doing that in coordination with the White House: The president wants his allies to help him build popular support for an emergency decree so that’s what they’re doing. But now I wonder if maybe Trump has convinced himself that he can get Democrats to bend if this goes on a few weeks longer, with Graham and Meadows desperately trying to convince him otherwise before this turns into a political disaster.

The only face-saving way out of this for Trump apart from an emergency decree is if congressional Republicans get so spooked that they join with Democrats to form veto-proof majorities in both chambers to re-open the government. But it would take real political pain for 20 Senate Republicans to agree to that (plus McConnell’s acquiescence, of course). And I don’t know why Trump would prefer that outcome to an emergency declaration. Granted, if Congress acted without him to end the shutdown he could say that he never compromised on the wall and was sold out by the treacherous RINOS, yadda yadda. But the fact remains that a veto override is a huge embarrassment for a president. The media would crow for weeks that even Trump’s own party concluded that his quest for a wall needed to end before more people suffered from the shutdown.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting this afternoon that the shutdown could last for weeks more. Er, no, it will not.

President Trump’s aides have started preparations for the State of the Union speech on Jan. 29, drafting some sections of the address with an understanding the partisan government shutdown could be continuing more than a month after it began, White House officials said.

Meanwhile, the White House Office of Management and Budget is preparing for the shutdown to continue through the end of February, according to White House officials who have been briefed on the plans…

An estimated 800,000 federal workers are going without paychecks, but some White House officials said privately that is unlikely to generate outrage among most Americans. “What is the real impetus to make a deal from either side?” one White House official said. “It’s not like the president is going to notice that the White House is empty.”

“Who cares about federal workers and their families having their entire lives disrupted?” feels like not the best message to win what’s ultimately a messaging war. Anyway, something will happen over the next 10 days or so to force action to end this. Either air travel will break down due to TSA sickouts or there’ll be big demonstrations in Washington by furloughed workers that’ll cow Congress (there have already been some small ones), but I can’t believe they’d let it go to the point where they miss another round of paychecks. I don’t think Republicans want to risk leaving Trump with an open mic and a huge TV audience at the State of the Union either with the shutdown still going and approaching its 40th day. In fact, I wonder if Pelosi will even allow him the opportunity: Maybe she’ll rescind the invitation to have him come and address Congress, leaving him to do it from the White House instead. Certainly she doesn’t want to be in-frame and unable to respond during an SOTU speech in which Trump excoriates her at length for not giving him the wall money already.

Via the Free Beacon, here’s Dem freshman Katie Hill of California saying today that she’d agree to vote for some physical barriers at the border as part of an immigration deal. Ed noted earlier that this is tough on freshman Dems who won in purple districts, as Hill did.