US President Donald Trump has stopped short of ruling out another government shutdown and threatened to declare a national emergency if a bipartisan committee negotiating over agency funding does not include money for his proposed border wall.
He also reaffirmed military force “an option” in strife-torn Venezuela and said he “had not thought about” offering a pardon to embattled former colleague, Roger Stone, a confidant who is the sixth Trump aide charged in Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible co-ordination between Russia and Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Talking about another possible government shutdown, Mr Trump threatened to declare a national emergency if a bipartisan committee negotiating over agency funding does not include money for his proposed border wall.
Speaking ahead of Super Bowl in Atlanta, Mr Trump also told CBS News’ Face the Nation that he wants to keep US soldiers in Iraq to “watch” Iran, disputed reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is considering a run for Senate and said he would steer his son, Barron, away from playing football because of the risk of concussions.
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The president’s comments offered a possible preview of his upcoming State of the Union address in the House of Representatives, which is now scheduled for February 5 after it was delayed amid a spat between the White House and Mrs Pelosi during the partial federal government shutdown.
The government is currently funded through February 15, and Mr Trump has strongly suggested that he may call a national emergency if Congress does not agree to provide some financial backing for his proposed wall along the southern border.
“You know, there have been plenty national emergencies called,” Mr Trump told interviewer Margaret Brennan. “And this really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers.”
Separately, Mr Trump doubled down on his criticisms of the intelligence community, which he tweeted this week was “extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran.”
His comments came after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray testified on Capitol Hill, and contradicted Mr Trump’s assertions that ISIS has been defeated and that North Korea is on a path to removing its nuclear arsenal.
Mr Trump said that the intelligence community was wrong to conclude that Iran had been abiding by the nuclear accord it reached with the Obama administration. Mr Trump pulled the US out of the deal last year, and began reimposing devastating economic sanctions against the country.
“I disagree with them. I have intel people, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree. President Bush had intel people that said Saddam Hussein, in Iraq, had nuclear weapons — had all sorts of weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? Those intel people didn’t know what the hell they were doing, and they got us tied up in a war that we should have never been in. And we’ve spent seven trillion dollars in the Middle East and we have lost lives,” Mr Trump said.
The president stuck to his previous commitment to pull all 2000 US troops out of Syria, but indicated that he could change his mind quickly. Senate Republicans joined Democrats last week in formally rebuking Mr Trump’s Syria policy.
“We’ll come back if we have to,” Mr Trump said. He added that troops there are currently in the process of coming home or redeploying to Iraq.
“We have very fast aeroplanes, we have very good cargo planes. We can come back very quickly, and I’m not leaving,” Mr Trump continued. “We have a base in Iraq and the base is a fantastic edifice. I mean I was there recently, and I couldn’t believe the money that was spent on these massive runways. And these — I’ve rarely seen anything like it. And it’s there. And we’ll be there. And frankly, we’re hitting the caliphate from Iraq and as we slowly withdraw from Syria.”
— with Fox News