Taking Cues From 'Fox & Friends' and Snubbing Hannity, Trump Backs Down on Emergency Declaration

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

President Donald Trump speaks in New Orleans. 

It’s been a week of sitting on the edge of our seats, wondering if President Donald J. Trump was about to declare a state of national emergency so that he could re-open the government on his own in order to loot its coffers to fund his border wall in defiance of Congress’s power of the purse. But after Brian Kilmeade, one of the hosts of the Fox & Friends morning program urged the president not to go there, the president decided not to go there.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. Of course, while we know that the president’s judgment is heavily colored by what his friendly foxes say about him, the hard-right Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives also urged him to back down. 

It seems that once Kilmeade and Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows had a moment to think about things, they realized that if Trump set the precedent for invoking emergency powers in order to execute a non-emergency operation, it would actually be the Congress whose power he was robbing.

Worse than that, what if a Democrat won the 2020 presidential election? Once the trick had been tried by Trump, what’s to stop a liberal from doing the same thing? (Hopefully, respect for our constitutional form of government.)

The New York Times quotes Kilmeade’s remarks:

Brian Kilmeade, a co-host of the reliably pro-Trump “Fox & Friends,” said on Thursday’s program that the declaration of a national emergency to fund a wall, which the president is considering, “would just be a disaster in the big picture, and just show us being inept and unable to govern around the world.”

The host went on to suggest that future presidents could use a similar tactic for purposes that may be less aligned with the “Fox & Friends” worldview. “It would just set a terrible precedent,” Mr. Kilmeade said, as his co-hosts listened silently. “The next president, if it is a liberal president, will say a state of emergency will be climate change.”

Sean Hannity, the Fox News Channel’s big prime-time host, must be miffed. It was only on Wednesday, after he accompanied Trump to the southern border, that Hannity himself declared the problem of undocumented immigrants to be “a national emergency.” And Hannity is thought of as a sort of shadow White House chief of staff.

Politico tells us that on that very same night, the Freedom Caucus holed up for a contentious meeting, the caucus divided on whether such a declaration would be a good idea.

So it seems that Trump himself may have achieved (if only temporarily) something remarkable: He’s broken the monolithic Trumpiness of Fox News, and divided the most Trumpy group of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Gotta hand it to him. Now, if only he’d prove to the nation that he actually does know how to close a deal, and stop bleeding the economy with his interminable government shutdown. It should be OK now for him to try; he’s already triumphed at instigating the LONGEST GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN EVER! Surely something of which he is very proud. 

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