Watch Live: President Trump Addresses Nation’s Border Security (& Dems Respond)

Update 3: Minutes after the Democrats finished their rebuttal, Mitch McConnell released a statement of support for the president where he affirmed that Trump’s proposal – developed with input from border patrol agents – “suits the reality on the ground.”

* * *

Update 2: In the Democratic rebuttal, Nancy Pelosi accused the president of spreading “misinformation and malice.”

“The fact is, Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services from the American people…and withhold the paychecks from federal workers…many of them veterans.”

When his turn came, Schumer argued that “we don’t govern by temper tantrum…no person should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down.”

“Throughout his presidency…Trump has appealed to fear not facts. Republicans and Democrats both want stronger border security…but we strongly disagree about how we do it.”

The solution? “Separate the shutdown from arguments about border security.”

In other words, pass a funding bill…then start negotiations on a border security bill…basically a return to the status quo.

Schumer then accused Trump of “using the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis.”

We can secure our border without an ineffective, expensive wall. We can welcome immigrants and refugees without compromising border security.”

“Our suggestion is a simple one: Mr. President, reopen the government and we can work to resolve our differences on border security…but end this shutdown now.”

* * *

Update: Trump started his speech by explaining why illegal immigration and lax border security harm all Americans. Illegal immigrants soak up public resources and commit violent crimes while lax border security helps fuel the deadly drug crisis in the US. Trump labeled it a “deadly humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and crisis of the soul.”

“This barrier is absolutely critical to border security,” Trump said in his first address from the Oval Office. “This is just common sense.”

“This is a choice between right and wrong, between justice and injustice.”

The address was described by one pundit as a “more formalized stump speech” from what he used during the campaign. The takeaway: Once again, the much-hyped speech offered no new information about the administration’s plans to fund the border wall. It was also notably measured.

But Americans aren’t the only ones who struggle with the destruction and harm from our lax border. Young immigrant children who are exploited by coyotes who force them into sexual trafficking and use them for other devious ends.

Secure the border and stop drug smugglers and human traffickers. He said the White House’s proposal was developed by border agents in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security – the proposal includes cutting edge technology for detecting drugs and weapons, more agents, immigration judges and bed space to process “the surge in illegal immigration fueled by our very strong economy.”

“Our southern border is a pipeline for illegal drugs…including meth heroine cocaine and fentanyl…more Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed during the Vietnam war.”

The plan also includes resources for medical supplies, presumably to prevent the deaths to like those of two young children over the past month.

Referring to his earlier offer of a “compromise,” Trump said that “at the request of the Democrats” (though there is no record of them ever making such a request) he had offered to build a wall of steel slats instead of a concrete barrier.

The wall, Trump said, would pay for itself every year. The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the “great new trade deal” we have made with Mexico.

Trump also pointed out that Democrats like Chuck Schumer supported a wall in the past.

He also squarely pinned the blame for the shutdown on Democrats (despite polls showing that a majority of Americans blame Trump).

The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only – because Democrats will not fund border security.”

Subtly retreading his criticism of the Obamas and the wall they recently built around their house, Trump pointed out that if barriers like the one Trump is proposing are immoral, then why do wealthy people and politicians build walls around their homes?

Trump then highlighted the killing of a border officer who was killed on the day after Christmas by an illegal alien near the border. And in California, an Air Force veteran was beaten to death by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the US as unaccompanied minors were arrested for murder.

“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”

He ended his speech by urging every citizen to call their representatives and urge them to vote to secure the border.

The upshot from all this: Trump stopped short of declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress and start construction on the wall…sparing his administration from would have likely been a long-running and tedious legal battle.

* * *

With furloughed federal workers struggling to pay their bills and mortgages as the partial government shutdown started before the holidays is about to enter its 18th day – the second-longest on record – many will be watching with anxious anticipation as President Trump takes to the resolute desk inside the Oval Office – after a trip to the Southern border – where he is expected to give a major policy speech about his plans for border security and his promised wall.

Following a meeting between Trump and a group of reporters earlier in the day, several media organizations reported that Trump isn’t planning to declare a national emergency – as he first threatened to do during a press conference on Friday – though Trump aides later backtracked and made clear that the president hasn’t explicitly closed to the door on this option.

According to CNN, Trump is planning to use the speech to make his case to the nation about his reasons for wanting to build the border wall. But when it comes to whether Trump will declare a state of emergency Tuesday night that would allow him to bypass Congress and start construction on the wall, the president is the only person who knows for certain.

As the Hill reported, Trump’s aides have been “coy” about the president’s plans.

“He is not giving a likelihood. He is not saying yes or no. But he’s made very clear to you and the public last week that he is considering it,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters after the lunch ended.

Even if Trump doesn’t declare a national emergency on Tuesday, many Democrats expect it will happen soon after given that negotiations are still deadlocked and it would be a convenient exit ramp allowing Trump to end the partial shutdown while still being able to claim he’s working toward the wall.

“That could be the exit ramp that would enable him to say, ‘look, I’m still 100 percent in favor of the wall. We’re going to build it, but we’re just going to use a different method. Therefore, I don’t need Congress, therefore we don’t need the shutdown,'” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, said Tuesday on NPR.

Though some have questioned the legality of using a national emergency for such a purpose, Trump and a Democratic House committee chairman have affirmed that it’s within the president’s authority.

Though, as No. 2 House Dem Steny Hoyer said, deciding to declare an emergency to build the wall will almost certainly provoke a legal challenge.

“It is analogous to governments that we have seen all over the world declaring martial law, and justifying them in doing whatever they wanted to do to whomever they wanted to do it, whenever they wanted to do it,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)


“There is no crisis, there is no invasion, there is no clear and present danger as the president would try to convey to the American people – to scare them and to justify actions otherwise not justified,” he said.

All of the major news networks have agreed to carry Trump’s speech live, and after Democratic leaders demanded that they be given equal time for a rebuttal, most have agreed to carry that as well.

The president is slated to begin speaking at 9 pm ET (though, if history is any guide, his remarks will probably start some time after). NBC News has published a live feed where viewers can watch Trump’s speech and the Democratic rebuttal, which is expected to begin immediately afterward.

Looking ahead to Wednesday, Trump will reportedly meet with a group of 8 Congressional leaders in the afternoon, according to CNN.

* * *

Feeling burnt out from all this shutdown-related political brinksmanship and looking to zone out with some totally a-political content?

Well, Stormy Daniels will be folding her laundry in her underwear on Instagram live starting at 9 pm ET.