President TrumpDONALD JOHN TRUMPDem strategist says party's leaders struggle to relate to AmericansMexican president staying out of wall debate, calling it an internal US matterChina vows to buy 'substantial amount' of American goods and services, US trade agency saysMORE on Wednesday said he may declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build a border wall if spending talks fail, raising the stakes for negotiations set to resume later in the day. 

 

“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t we might go that route,” Trump told reporters during a bill signing in the Oval Office.  

 

The president said he has the “absolute right” to declare an emergency, even though some legal scholars and Democratic lawmakers say he does not. 

 

Trump added that his “threshold” for declaring a national emergency is if he cannot reach a deal with congressional Democrats, who have rejected his demand for $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

 

The comments come one day after he argued to the nation in a televised addressed that a “humanitarian crisis” caused by drug trafficking and illegal immigration exists on the southern border and his proposed wall is the only thing that can stop it. 

 

The president stopped short of declaring a national emergency, despite the expectation from some lawmakers that he would. But the White House on Wednesday reiterated that the option is still on the table

 

Trump’s words did not move Democratic leaders who have repeated their demands that the president reopen the government before negotiations on border security can progress.

 

“It’s much harder to achieve a good negotiation while the government’s shut down,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at the Capitol. “The first order of business — we’ll continue to negotiate — the first order of business: Open up the government.”

 

Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will return to the White House later Wednesday to resume talks with Trump and his top staff.

 

Two such meetings last week yielded little progress in resolving the partial government shutdown, which is in its 19th day, but Trump expressed optimism about the talks.

 

“We’re all working together,” he said. “I really believe the Democrats and the Republicans are working together.”

 

But Pelosi earlier Wednesday accused the White House of changing its demands too many times in the shutdown battle, which began Dec. 22 after Trump rejected a deal worked out in the Senate that would have kept the government open until Feb. 8, buying time for more talks.

 

“The White House seems to move the goal posts. Every time they come with a proposal, they walk away from it. Pretty soon these goals posts won't even be in the stadium,” she said.

 

Complicating the president’s refusal to budge are wobbly Republicans in Congress who fear political blowback over effects of the shutdown, such as hundreds of thousands of federal workers who will soon miss their paychecks.

 

Trump on Wednesday afternoon is making a rare trip to Capitol Hill with Vice President Pence to shore up support among Senate Republicans, four of whom have publicly expressed reservations about the president’s strategy.

 

But Trump argued it would be more politically painful for him if he backs away from his demand for wall funding. Read more at The Hill