In a meeting with network anchors on Tuesday ahead of his address to the nation, the president dismissed his trip to McAllen, a border community where crime is near a 30-year low, as a “photo op” that he was doing because his top communications advisers counseled him to do.
In Texas, he is expected to meet with Border Patrol officials who are being forced to work without pay because of the funding impasse.
The president has said he has reserved the option of declaring a national emergency to fund construction for the wall, perhaps the central promise that he made to his political base during his campaign, and bypassing a legislative solution.
The White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, is to accompany the president to Texas, according to a White House official who declined to be identified to discuss internal matters. Mr. Cipollone would be among those who would presumably provide a legal rationale should Mr. Trump declare an emergency.
.. “I didn’t say they’re going to write me a check for $10 billion or $20 billion,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday. “If Congress approves this trade bill, they’ll pay for the wall many times over. When I say Mexico’s going to pay for the wall, that’s what I mean.”
The new trade deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, does not stipulate that Mexico provide funds for the wall, and has not been approved by Congress.
.. The head of the Army Corps of Engineers traveled with Mr. Trump to Texas on Thursday. Redirecting funds from the Army’s construction agency to build the wall is one option Mr. Trump could use in a national emergency.
Mr. Trump said he had the legal authority to make the declaration. “This is a thing that the lawyers tell me is 100 percent,” Mr. Trump said.
If the president were to declare a national emergency, which some legal experts say is within his authority, it is sure to stoke debate in Congress.
To bolster his campaign for the wall, the president has also scheduled an interview with the Fox host Sean Hannity, who will broadcast his show Thursday night from McAllen. Mr. Hannity is one of the president’s highest-profile supporters and is highly influential among his political base.