Will Donald Trump really be able to restrain himself from a high-profile fight over his top domestic-policy goal? “Most likely,” he told Fox News’ Pete Hegseth at a live interview at last night’s rally in Billings, Montana. Trump says he’s willing to put off a funding fight over the border wall in order to protect the thin Republican majority in the House through the midterms — but he wants immediate action afterward:

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he “most likely” will not shut down the government before this November’s midterm elections over funding for his promised border wall, backing down somewhat from comments he made earlier this week hinting that he might take such a step.

Trump told Fox News’ Pete Hegseth that he likely would not insist on funding for a border wall ahead of November’s elections because he doesn’t want to harm Republicans’ electoral prospects.

“If it was up to me, I’d shut down government over border security,” Trump told Hegseth in an interview conducted live in front of a campaign rally audience in Montana. “And I guess when you get right down to it, it is up to me,” he continued, “but I don’t want to do anything to hurt us or potentially hurt us.” …

“We’ll do it right after the election where hopefully, frankly, it will be easy because we have more Republicans, not less,” he said.

The answer wasn’t particularly popular with the crowd, which cheered Hegseth’s question in anticipation of a pugilistic response. Trump acknowledged that “it is up to me” to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his funding, but that’s it’s not wise to do so. Trump also predicted that he’ll have more Republicans to support it after the election, but that wouldn’t be true until after the first of the year.

The most pressing reason for taking it up immediately after the election would be if Republicans lost control of the House in the midterms. That would leave them with control over a lame-duck session and a few weeks to get something passed in the House. If that’s the case, though, Senate Democrats would likely dig in and filibuster anything coming out of the House, hoping to run out the clock on lame-duck bills. If the session ends without a House bill getting passed by the Senate, then the bill would have to be re-passed in the new session starting in January. And if that session is gaveled in by Nancy Pelosi, the chances of that happening are all but nil.

That means that Trump’s best shot is probably before the end of September rather than the second week of January. And that’s why “most likely” is a far cry from certain.