Trump's disgraceful 'national emergency' was inevitabile

The president of the United States declared a national emergency. He did so because he could not get the money he wanted from Congress to build the unnecessary border wall he promised to his base during two years of campaigning and two years of governing. 

In doing so, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE is crossing an egregious line of presidential overreach unprecedented in history that could have dire repercussions for years to come.


In allowing it to happen, Republicans are demonstrating their collective lack of spine, their loss of any moral compass and their willingness to sacrifice what is best for the country at the altar of political expediency and avoidance of wrathful backlash from Trump and his base. As history immortalizes this moment in time, it will not be kind to the GOP. 

It is left to the Democrats to try to do what they can to prevent this atrocious power grab. It was inevitable that Trump would take this route. He had no other choice — for several reasons.

First, for so long, it was obvious that his wall would be an impossibility because it was so ill-fated, badly thought out, and based on outright lies and untruths. 

A majority of Americans know that Trump's wall is not necessary, that the very people who live on the border do not want it, and they know the reasoning behind the wall is a farce.    

Second, Trump was never going to outmaneuver new Speaker of the House Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (D-Calif.). She and Democrats had a new national mandate after they took over control of the House of Representatives. They were going to fight for what they knew was right and what the American people actually wanted. 

Third, the "Trump Shutdown," which Trump himself said he would be proud to instigate, was disastrous for the country to be sure, but politically, it eviscerated the president and his party. But his base seemed to still support it. So Trump needed a way out pronto.

He needed a way out that would put roughly 800,000 federal workers back to work so the media coverage of their suffering would go away. He needed a way out that would demonstrate to his base that he was committed to building the wall more than ever. And he needed a way out that would not give Democrats the last word. 

The only way out was always to declare a national emergency. That way, Trump would demonstrate he was willing to build the wall by any means necessary.

As has been widely reported, with the current deal, Trump is worse off than he was with the deal he was offered before Christmas, before the government shutdown and much worse off than he was with the deal a year ago that would have given him $25 billion to secure the border. 

He is about to sign a deal that is anathema to those very voices who convinced him not to take the prior deals — Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc.,  — who believe anything less than full funding for the wall would be unacceptable.

Again, the only way out for him politically is to declare a national emergency. 

But make no mistake, it is an ill-fated move that will only demonstrate the president’s unfitness to lead, his lack of ability to govern, his dangerous disinterest in the good of the majority of the country, his petulant nature and his penchant to put his own self interests ahead of his party or the country. 

Declaring a national emergency for what is clearly not an emergency is most likely illegal, will weaken him and ultimately weaken the Republicans and the office of the presidency. 

It is obvious that the need for the wall is actually no national emergency at all. 

It is already established that his reasoning for the wall in the first place is all based lies and his own (and his base’s) anti-immigrant tendencies. If the situation on the border was a real emergency, why is it more so now than before the 35 days he kept the government closed because he didn’t get the funding for the wall? 

If it is an emergency now, why wasn’t it when he took office and his party had control of the both houses of Congress?


As most things with Trump, the move reeks of desperation and hypocrisy. Desperation because he has nowhere left to go to placate his base. Hypocrisy because when President Obama used an executive order to implement protections for Dreamers, after the GOP Congress refused to put the issue to a vote, Trump tweeted that the GOP should be up in arms for such presidential overreach. 

Now here we are experiencing one of the most disgusting displays of presidential abuse of power perhaps in our lifetimes. Republicans, many of whom said they would be against this move, are now silently, predictably and disgustingly falling in line. 

Democrats will do what they can to hold the president accountable as was the mandate they were given.

But in the end, this move will ensure Americans hold the president accountable for the way he has mismanaged, and deceived the country and abused his power. Here’s to 2020. 

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.