White House senior adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday staunchly defended President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE's decision to declare a national emergency to secure funds for construction of a wall along the southern border, but struggled to provide an example of a similar use of such executive power by past presidents.
"Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly pressed Miller to provide another example of a president invoking national emergency powers to get money that Congress denied him through the appropriations process.
"Can you find one case like that?" Wallace asked.
Miller noted other presidents have invoked the 1976 National Emergencies Act to use military construction funds, which is what Trump did in his declaration on Friday.
Wallace noted that of the 59 times the National Emergencies Act was invoked, two were for military construction funds: Once during the Gulf War, and once following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"This is hardly comparable to either of those," Wallace said.
"Can you name one foreign threat in the world today outside this country’s borders that currently kills more Americans than the threats crossing our southern border?" Miller retorted.
"You know, the joy of this is I get to ask you questions," Wallace said. "You don’t get to ask me."
Miller did not provide another instance of a president using emergency powers to secure funding previously denied to him by Congress, but insisted that Trump was justified in his actions.
"This is a deep intellectual problem that is plaguing this city," Miller said. "Which is we've had thousands of Americans die year after year after year because of threats crossing our southern border."
"This is a threat in our country … and if the president can’t defend this country, then he cannot fulfill his constitutional oath of office," he added.
Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to bypass Congress and spend roughly $8 billion on barriers along the southern border, a big step toward building his long-promised wall that also comes with significant political and legal risk.
The president's declaration highlighted $3.6 billion in military construction funding toward the border project. Those funds would be paired with separate executive action repurposing about $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug-interdiction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset-forfeiture fund.
Lawmakers from both parties have pushed back against Trump's emergency declaration, and the move has already drawn a flurry of lawsuits.