Donald Trump delivered a series of rambling comments this morning about his emergency declaration, which was then followed by a rambling press conference. And while the president made a series of odd claims, and repeated some familiar lies, it was his response to a question from NBC News' Peter Alexander that was probably the one thing Trump will regret saying.
In reference to border-wall construction, the Republican explained why he's circumventing Congress and the legislative appropriations process.
"I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster.... I just want to get it done faster, that's all."
He quickly added that this isn't about his re-election bid, because he's "already done a lot of wall." This is, of course, a rather delusional lie.
But Trump's answer included an element of truth: "I didn't need to do this."
The president's own explanation left little doubt that there's no pressing "emergency" demanding unprecedented emergency action. Trump effectively admitted that he sees this as a matter of convenience: the American policymaking process would take time, and he'd "rather do it much faster."
If you're thinking these unscripted comments might be used against the White House in future litigation, you're not alone. Indeed, it won't be the first time.
As regular readers know, Trump's words keep being used against him in court.
* Last fall, Trump's comments undermined his case in an emoluments-clause lawsuit.
* Also last year, the administration lost a DACA case, and the court ruling cited the president’s own rhetoric when ruling against his position.
* In Bowe Bergdahl’s case, the judge indicated that he would consider Trump’s record of highly provocative rhetoric towards Bergdahl as part of the sentencing decision.
* The initial versions of the White House’s Muslim ban faced repeated legal difficulties because of Trump’s own rhetoric.
* The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded over the summer that Democratic attorneys general could participate in a case over health care policy as a result of Trump’s rhetoric.
* The administration’s lawyers ran into the same problem last April trying to defend Trump’s executive order on so-called “sanctuary cities.”
* And in March 2018, Trump lost another DACA case in part because of his own rhetoric.
In a way, Trump’s opponents should probably hope he never stops speaking his mind so freely.