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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he “probably” will declare a national emergency if he can’t get Congress to agree to fund a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will,” he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he departed for a trip to McAllen, Texas, to see the border up close. “If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely.”

His fight with lawmakers over the $5.7 billion he wants for the wall led to a partial government shutdown Dec. 22 that remains in effect, with the White House and Congress at an impasse over whether even a single dollar should be spent on the barrier he promised to build on Mexico’s dime during his 2016 campaign.

Trump walked out of a meeting with congressional leaders in the White House Situation Room Thursday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told him that Democrats would not agree to pay for the wall within 30 days if he consented to re-opening shuttered federal agencies.

Trump said Thursday that there are “various mechanisms” for circumventing Congress to get money for the wall and that White House lawyers have advised him that he has the authority to declare a national emergency. The most obvious pot of money is in the Pentagon’s budget, which allows the secretary of Defense to transfer up to $4 billion between accounts under certain conditions.

But he said going around Congress isn’t his preferred route.

“I would like to do the deal through Congress and because it makes sense to do it through Congress,” he said. “The easy route for me would have been to call a national emergency to do it.”

Pressed on why Mexico isn’t paying for the wall — a staple promise of Trump’s 2016 campaign — the president said he hadn’t meant that literally.

“When, during the campaign, I would say Mexico’s going to pay for it, obviously, I never said this, and I never meant, they’re gonna write out a check,” he said. “I said they’re gonna pay for it. They are. They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made called the United States Mexico and Canada, USMCA deal.”

But Trump told the Washington Post in 2016 that Mexico could make a one-time payment for the wall, and economists have cast doubt on whether the trade deal — which is essentially an update of the old North America Free Trade Agreement — is likely to produce significant new revenue for the U.S. government.

Trump’s visit to Texas comes two days after he delivered a primetime address to the nation on what he repeatedly referred to as a “crisis” on the border and one day after brief talks with congressional leaders over the wall and the shutdown ended with him saying “bye-bye” and exiting the room.

On Thursday, he disputed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s claim that he had slammed the table before departing Wednesday’s meeting.

“I didn’t pound on tables. I didn’t raise my voice,” Trump said. “That was a lie. … Schumer always has his stand in line. ‘He had a temper tantrum.’ I don’t have temper tantrums, I really don’t. But it plays to his narrative.”

In retrospect, Trump said, maybe he should have displayed more anger.

“I didn’t smash the table,” he said. “I should have, but I didn’t smash the table.”

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Brexit news: Will Queen be forced to SUSPEND Parliament?

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HARD Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested Theresa May could prevent an extension to Article 50 and a delay to Brexit by shutting down Parliament early.

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Hakeem Jeffries defends calling Trump ‘Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’

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Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Allan Smith

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is standing by remarks he made Monday in which he called President Donald Trump “the Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

In an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” the House Democratic Caucus chairman said he had no regrets about the comment, which he made at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in New York City.

“We’ve got to have an opportunity for at least one day a year to have a candid if sometimes uncomfortable conversation about race,” Jeffries told CNN. “It seems to me that we can’t have that conversation on Valentine’s Day, we can’t have that conversation on Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s perhaps appropriate for us to be able to have that difficult discussion on MLK Day, when we’re celebrating the life and legacy of a champion for racial and social justice.”

Monday was not the first time Jeffries labeled Trump as such. But he told CNN that he “absolutely” does not think Trump is a Ku Klux Klan member. “Grand Wizard” is the title that was given to leaders of the white supremacist group.

“I did not use the words racist in any of my comments,” Jeffries said. “In fact, Wolf Blitzer in the past has asked me whether I believe the president is a racist, and I’ve consistently said no. I did use a colorful phrase, but of course I don’t believe that the president is a card-carrying member of the KKK. But it did capture a troubling pattern of racially insensitive and outrageous, at times, behavior that spans not months, not years, but decades.”

As examples, Jeffries cited a Justice Department lawsuit against the Trumps in the 1970s for alleged housing discrimination, the president’s remarks about the so-called Central Park Five, Trump’s promotion of the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and the president’s handling of the fatal violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Jeffries wasn’t the only Democratic leader to attack Trump’s racial record over the Monday holiday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in South Carolina: “It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a president of the United States who is a racist.”

In response, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted that Sanders’ remark was “disgusting and wrong.”

@realDonaldTrump has brought African American and Hispanic unemployment to record lows, passed historic criminal justice reform. Even worse that Bernie is using MLK Day to make an incendiary comment like that,” McDaniel wrote.



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Brexit latest: 'Mayhem' as Remainer MPs plot to halt UK leaving the EU

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BREXITEERS warned of “mayhem” yesterday as plotting Remainers unleashed plans to sabotage Brexit by seizing power from the Government.

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