Trump signals he will declare national emergency over border wall, calling congress talks ‘a waste of time’

Chris Baynes

Donald Trump has indicated he is likely to declare a national emergency when a federal government funding deal runs out later this month, dismissing talks with Democrats as “a waste of time”.

The president said he had “set the stage” for action to sidestep congress to secure $5.7bn (£4.4bn) for a wall on the US-Mexico border, as the prospect of a second government shutdown looms.

In a wide-ranging New York Times interview, Mr Trump also said he had received reassurances he was “not a target” of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and dismissed talk he may not seek re-election in 2020.

The president spoke to the newspaper he has repeatedly derided as “failing” after contacting its publisher, AG Sulzberger.

During the interview in the Oval Office, Mr Trump hinted that he planned to declare a national emergency in two weeks’ time if the deadlock with Democrats over border wall funding continues.

Mr Trump last week signed off a spending bill that reopened federal government departments until 15 February following the longest shutdown in US history.

Mr Trump has continued to insist he will not sign off a long-term funding package without money for the border wall, but Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday there was “not going to be any wall money in the legislation”.

A group of 17 Republican and Democrat politicians has been set up to thrash out a compromise, but Mr Trump told the New York Times: “I think it’s a waste of time … They don’t want to give money for the wall.”

Asked if he had “set the table for emergency declaration,” the president replied: “I’ve set the table. I’ve set the stage for doing what I’m going to do.”

He added: “I’ll continue to build the wall, and we’ll get the wall finished.”

Mr Trump also brushed off Mr Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, claiming deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had told his lawyers “that I’m not a subject, I’m not a target”.

Asked if that reassurance also covered the separate investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, he replied: “I don’t know about that."

The special counsel has previously refused to confirm if Mr Trump was a focus of his investigation.

Mr Trump dismissed speculation he may opt against running for a second term in the White House.

“I love this job,” he said, although he added he had lost “massive amounts of money” while president.

“There’s been more of a burden on me than other presidents,” he claimed.

Discussing potential Democratic challengers in 2020, he said California senator Kamala Harris – whose name he mispronounced Kameela – had “the best opening so far”, with a “better crowd, better enthusiasm”.