Mulvaney: Trump will secure the border 'with or without Congress'

Mulvaney: Trump will secure the border 'with or without Congress'
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Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney to file separate suit to fight impeachment subpoena Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition White House struggles to get in sync on impeachment MORE said Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse and Senate Dems implore McConnell to sign DACA legislation to protect 'Dreamers' White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings Senior official describes cyber workforce shortage as national security threat MORE will secure the southern border "with or without Congress," and did not explicitly rule out the possibility of another government shutdown in the coming weeks.

Mulvaney indicated that the president is prepared to declare a national emergency to direct construction of a wall along the southern border if Congress is unable to reach a funding deal to his liking.

"It’s still better to get it through legislation," Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday," calling the legislative process "the right way" to secure funding for a wall.

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"At the end of the day, the president’s commitment is to defend the nation and he’ll do it either with or without Congress," he added.

Trump has said he will use his emergency powers if needed to direct construction of a wall. Such a move would almost certainly prompt swift legal challenges.

The president on Friday signed a bill to fund the government for three weeks. The measure did not include money for a wall along the southern border, but provided the opportunity for a bipartisan conference of lawmakers to negotiate border security funding.

The decision marked a sharp reversal for Trump, who triggered a partial government shutdown over his demand for more than $5 billion in wall funding, and insisted for the previous 35 days that he would not cave on the issue in the face of Democratic opposition.

Mulvaney downplayed the consequences of what many saw as a capitulation by the president, saying that Trump will "be judged by what happens at the end of this process, not what happened this week."

The acting chief of staff did not explicitly rule out the government shutting down again in February when funding lapses again.

"No one wants a government shutdown," Mulvaney said. "But when a president vetoes a bill that’s put in front of him on a spending package, sometimes that has the effect of shutting the government down. We don’t go into this trying to shut the government down."

Asked later on CBS's "Face the Nation" whether the president was willing to shut the government down again, Mulvaney said "Yeah, I think he actually is."

— This report was updated at 10:39 a.m.