A reporter asked Donald Trump today if he's considered granting himself emergency powers and building a border wall without congressional approval. "Yes, I have," the president replied. "I can do it if I want."
"Absolutely, we can call a national emergency because of the security of our country. Absolutely. I haven't done it. I may do it. I may do it. We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. It's another way of doing it."
The broader implications of such a policy could prove fascinating. There could be a Democratic president, for example, who could declare a national health care emergency and begin spending on a Medicare-for-All model.
Is this sort of governing model that Trump's Republican allies might be comfortable with?
As part of the same discussion this afternoon at the White House, another reporter asked about eminent domain and the portions of American property along the border that are privately owned. Trump has apparently given that some thought, too.
"What we're doing with eminent domain is in many cases we'll make a deal up front, and we've already done that -- the secretary has done a lot of that -- and if we can't make a deal, we take the land and we pay them through a court process, which goes actually fairly quickly and we're generous, but we take the land."
The president went on to specifically refer to "the military version of eminent domain."
Got it. So the Republican administration has envisioned a governing model in which a president can circumvent Congress and spend taxpayer money in defiance of lawmakers' wishes, all while the federal government takes private property.
Conservatism has seen better days.