On Sunday, White House adviser Stephen Miller defended President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency and claimed he is legally able to construct the wall.
The comment came during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace as the Trump administration faces at least two lawsuits over the declaration. Miller claimed that Congress allowed Trump a legal avenue to reallocate funds for the construction of a border wall because they allocated some money towards its construction. Implying if Congress allocated no money towards the wall as they initially planned, it would be unlawful to then allocate funds towards it. But, because Congress did grant Trump funds towards the wall, he is within legal means to increase the funding.
As the Washington Examiner reports, Miller said that Congress “didn’t refuse to appropriate” the funds towards the construction of a new border wall.
Miller also said the National Emergencies Act of 1976 grants Trump increased discretion during times of national emergency.
“They passed a law specifically saying the president could have this authority,” Miller continued.
Miller on Sunday pointed to the 1976 National Emergencies Act after being pressed on the Constitution’s requirement that “[n]o money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”
“The premise of your question is also false because Congress has appropriated money for construction of border barriers consistently,” Miller said.
Congress can pass a resolution of disapproval to nix Trump’s new emergency declaration, which the president invoked last week to redirect military funds toward building a wall. But Miller said Trump would veto the resolution.
“Well, obviously the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration,” he said.
According to the report, Trump is looking to redirect $3.6 billion in funds that were initially designated for the military, $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense’s anti-drug efforts, and an additional $600 million from asset forfeiture funds held by the Treasury Department.
Earlier in the interview, Miller answered a question about Trump’s “I didn’t need to do this” line from his declaration speech.
“We already have 4,000 troops on the border in light of a national emergency, a decision that was made almost a year ago, as we see an increasing number of people crossing the border as well as increasing violence in Mexico,” the Trump advisor said, via a Fox News transcript. “What the president was saying is that like past presidents, he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency as others have. But that’s not what he’s going to do.”
Miller also addressed the figure that most drugs seized from people coming over the border are done so at ports of entries:
“Chris, the problem with the statement that you’re apprehending 80 to 90 percent of the drugs at the ports of entry, that’s like saying, you apprehend this contraband at TSA checkpoints at airports. You apprehend the contraband there because that’s where you have the people. That’s where you have the screeners,” Miller said.
“I assure you, if we had people at that same density and screeners at that same density across every single inch and mile of the southern border, you’d have more drug interdicted in those areas. You don’t know what you don’t know and you don’t catch what you don’t catch,” he contended.
And, “But as a matter of national security, you cannot have uncontrolled, unsecured areas of the border where people can pour in undetected.”
Miller then said an effort to build a similarly sized “security perimeter in Iraq or Afghanistan” would go unchallenged by Congress. The wall Trump is seeking to construct “is defending our own country.”