Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyIvanka Trump claims president had ‘zero’ involvement in security clearances for her, Jared Kushner White House begins search for person who leaked president’s schedule: report On The Money: Negotiators discussing border funding lower than Trump’s demand | Amazon reconsiders HQ2 move to New York City | Early IRS numbers point to smaller average refunds MORE says President TrumpDonald John TrumpRob Lowe mocks Warren over Native American ancestry claims Obama health official blasts Trump’s physical exam: ‘No doctor can predict someone’s future health’ Trump makes Native American joke about Warren campaign announcement: ‘See you on the campaign TRAIL’ MORE will pull from several pots of money to fulfill his pledge to build a southern border wall, indicating the White House is prepared to accept a deal from Congress that doesn’t fully meet the president’s full $5.7 billion border request.
“We’ll take as much money as you can give us and then we’ll go off and find the money someplace else, legally, in order to secure that southern barrier, but this is going to get built with or without Congress,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“The president is going to build the wall,” he declared.
Senate and House negotiators are zeroing in on a number around $2 billion to allocate for border barriers in hopes of reaching a funding deal that would avoid another government shutdown after Feb. 15.
Mulvaney, who also serves as the White House budget director, warned “a government shutdown is technically still on the table.”
“We don’t want it to come to that but that option is still open to the president and will remain so,” he said.
The more likely scenario, however, is that Congress passes legislation that gives Trump between $1.3 billion and $2.5 billion in money for border barriers and the president then repurposes other federal funds to fill uncovered construction costs.
Mulvaney said “there is money that he can get at and is legally allowed to spend,” adding “all of this is going to be legal.”
He said the president can repurpose some federal funding without declaring a national emergency but didn’t rule out the possibility that Trump may still declare such an emergency to give his administration more flexibility.
“Any president can do this,” Mulvaney said. “There are certain funds of money that he can get to without declaring a national emergency and other funds that he can only get to after declaring a national emergency.”
“The whole pot is well north of $5.7 million,” he added, referring to the full amount Trump has requested from Congress to build the wall.
Mulvaney noted that presidents have declared 58 national emergencies since the National Emergencies Act was passed in 1976.
“This is not a case, Chris, as many folks think it is of the president just not getting what he wants [and then] so just going off and magically declaring a national emergency and getting all the money he wants,” he told Fox host Chris Wallace. “There are certain things that every president must do in order to trigger the rights that he has to sort of move money around.”
Mulvaney acknowledged, however, that many Republican lawmakers don’t want to see Trump declare a national emergency and that the president himself would prefer to avoid this controversial option.
“The president doesn’t really want to do it. That’s why we’ve had to go through the shutdown. It’s why he’s let Congress do what they’ve done the last three weeks,” he said. “He would prefer legislation because it’s the right way to go and it’s the proper way to spend money in this country.”
“But if that doesn’t happen, the president perceives his No. 1 priority is national security. He will then look at the national emergencies act as a way to do his job,” he added.