By CATHERINE LUCEY, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that he would prevail over a multistate lawsuit challenging his emergency declaration to pay for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he expected to do “very well,” against the suit, adding that he had an “absolute right” to make the declaration.
“I think in the end we’re going to be very successful with the lawsuit,” Trump said. “I actually think we might do very well, even in the 9th Circuit, because it’s an open and closed case.”
A group of 16 states, including California, New York and Colorado, filed a lawsuit Monday against Trump’s emergency declaration. The lawsuit filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco alleges Trump’s declaration is unconstitutional.
All the states involved in the lawsuit have Democratic attorneys general.
Using a broad interpretation of his executive powers, Trump declared an emergency last week to obtain wall funding beyond the $1.4 billion Congress approved for border security. The move allows the president to bypass Congress to use money from the Pentagon and other budgets.
Democrats have seized on the move as an example of executive overreach. The office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a press release Tuesday that stated: “No one is above the law. Republicans must join Democrats to uphold the Constitution and stand with the American people – against the President’s brazen assault.”
Trump argued Tuesday that the wall was needed to “stop drugs and crime and criminals and human trafficking.” He has repeatedly sought to paint a dire picture of conditions at the border, though illegal border crossings are down from a high of 1.6 million in 2000.
After weeks spent battling with Congress over border funding and what constituted a wall versus a fence, Trump said: “I can call it a barrier, but I think I don’t have to do that so much anymore, we’ll call it whatever we want.”
Trump’s use of the emergency declaration has drawn bipartisan criticism and is expected to face numerous legal challenges. A top White House adviser said Sunday that Trump was prepared to issue his first veto if Congress votes to disapprove his declaration of a national emergency.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump singled out California for its lead role in the suit, seeking to link the state’s high-speed rail project to his plan for the wall.
On Twitter, Trump claimed the “failed Fast Train project” was beset by “world record setting” cost overruns and had become “hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”
The estimated cost for a San Francisco-to-Los Angeles train has more than doubled to $77 billion. That’s about 13 times more than the $5.7 billion Trump sought unsuccessfully from Congress to build the wall.
Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the rail project “as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long.” He said the state would focus on completing a shorter segment in the state’s Central Valley while seeking new funding sources for the longer route.