Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE said Sunday that President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race 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.
"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.