President Trump announced his intention to declare a national emergency at the southern border Friday in one of his most bizarre, rambling White House appearances yet.
Trump weaved and bobbed between talking about immigration and making asides about completely unrelated issues. So we’ve pulled together the highlights, in chronological order, from Trump’s chaotic rant:
It began with an aside about trade deals
Trump began the announcement by first mentioning the administration’s ongoing trade negotiations with China.
“We’re covering everything, all the points that people have been talking about for years that said couldn’t be done, whether it was theft or anything, anything,” Trump said in his vague update on trade discussions.
Then came a rundown of other foreign policy issues
The President breathlessly mentioned trade negotiations with the United Kingdom, the situation in Syria, and an upcoming summit on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
“A lot of positive things are going on,” he said.
Trump got distracted as soon as he mentioned the border
When he finally gave a nod to the purpose of his speech, Trump claimed he was taking the extraordinary measure not just to fill a campaign promise. This prompted a rambling tangent on the economy as Trump claimed he has filled his campaign promise to boost the American economy.
“The market is up tremendously today. Not that that’s anything, but you know — ‘Cause I’ll go back in and they’ll say the market just went down, but the market is getting close to the new highs that we created. We have all the records. We have every record. But we’re getting close to that point again where we’ll create new records,” Trump said.
Trump claims his administration has ushered in a booming economy: "We have all the records." pic.twitter.com/TCy65YTV9P
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 15, 2019
‘Walls work 100 percent’
Trump finally committed to talking about border security.
“They say walls don’t work. Walls work 100 percent,” he declared.
A very delayed announcement
Finally, about 10 minutes into his rambling opening, Trump announced that he would sign an emergency declaration.
‘Nobody’ cared about past declarations
Right after making his announcement, Trump suggested that his declaration should not be seen as a big deal.
“And it’s been signed many times before. It’s been signed by other presidents. From 1977 or so it gave the presidents the power. There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it. Nobody cares. I guess they weren’t very exciting. But nobody cares. They sign it, for far less important things in some cases, in many cases,” Trump said. “We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”
Another China shoutout
Trump clearly had China on the mind. While discussing the southern border, Trump praised China’s death penalty punishment for drug dealers.
“And I’d love you to declare it a lethal drug and put it on your criminal list. And their criminal list is much tougher than our criminal list. Their criminal list, a drug dealer gets a thing called the death penalty. Our criminal list, a drug dealer gets a thing called ‘How about a fine,’” Trump said.
The President then discussed trade negotiations with China yet again.
And back to the economy
Not long after Trump again started talking about the “invasion” of drugs at the southern border, he was back to touting his economic agenda. He mentioned a past executive action taken by President Obama, and it prompted him to bash the former president.
“Let me tell you, the previous administration, it was heading south, and it was going fast. We would have been down the tubes. The regulations were strangling our country, unnecessary regulations. By creating such a strong economy, you just look at your televisions and see what’s going on today. It’s through the roof,” Trump said.
He quickly brought it back to immigration, however, with a questionable claim about the number of people attempting to emigrate to the U.S.
“What happens is more people want to come. So we have far more people trying to get into our country today than probably we’ve ever had before,” Trump claimed.
Trump said he was ‘new to the job’
The President said that he could have secured funding for the border wall had he been a more experienced politician when Republicans controlled both chambers in Congress.
“It would have been great to have done it earlier, but I was a little new to the job, a little new to the profession,” he said.
But he quickly placed some blame on other unnamed individuals.
“People that should have stepped up did not step up,” he said.
Trump said he should have gotten border wall funding sooner but he was "a little new to the job" pic.twitter.com/c6ITlKbqig
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 15, 2019
A tune about the coming court fights
After ranting about immigration and the border for several minutes, Trump gave a sing-song rundown of the likely court fight over his border declaration. Watch the clip here.
Trump then lashed out at the press for their focus on lower court decisions that struck down his travel ban, noting that the Supreme Court ultimately upheld his final iteration of the policy.
“But somebody said President Trump lost on the ban. Well, he was right, I lost at the lower court,” Trump said, singling out a member of the press, though it’s unclear who. “He didn’t say that we ultimately won at the United States Supreme Court. They didn’t want to say that. They didn’t want to go that far. They were saying how I lost, the person sitting right up here.”
A conclusion about gang ‘monsters’
Before wrapping up his lengthy rant, Trump mentioned the MS-13 gang, something Trump has obsessed over since the campaign.
“One of the things just to finish, we have removed thousands of MS-13 gang monsters. Thousands. They’re out of this country. We take them out by the thousands. And they are monsters,” he said.
Trump wishes Bill Barr good luck
After spending another 30 minutes answering questions from reporters, Trump wished his new attorney general, Bill Barr, good luck. Barr will be tasked with leading the administration’s defense of Trump’s national emergency declaration in court.
“I want to wish our new attorney general great luck and speed and enjoy your life. Bill, good luck. Tremendous reputation. I know you’ll do a great job. Thank you very much, and thank you everybody,” the President said.