President Donald Trump on Friday announced plans to circumvent Congress and declare a “national emergency” to build his proposed southern border wall, admitting his thinking on the issue had been inspired by several far right talk show hosts.
NBC News posed the question during a Rose Garden press conference to address the emergency declaration, asking Trump “to what degree some of the outside conservative voices helped to shape [his] views” on the issue.
Trump did not hold back, praising the influence of Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson, as well as ultra conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
“Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do, not of me. If I change my views, he wouldn’t be with me,” he began. “Rush Limbaugh, I think he’s a great guy. He’s a guy who can speak for three hours without a phone call. Try doing that sometime. For three hours he speaks. He has one of the biggest audiences in the history…this guy is unbelievable. Try speaking for three hours without taking calls. Taking calls is easy. ‘Okay, I’ll answer this one and I’ll answer that one.'”
He continued, “Laura [Ingraham] has been great. … Tucker Carlson has been great.”
He added that fellow conservative media figure Ann Coulter had not influenced him, saying he “[did] not know her,” despite the fact that Coulter had introduced him at several past campaign rallies. Coulter has recently been critical of many of Trump’s policy decisions, tweeting early Friday morning that “the goal of a national emergency is for Trump to scam the stupidest people in his base for 2 more years.”
Back in December, Trump blew-up a bipartisan deal to avert the most recent partial government shutdown — after signaling to congressional negotiators that he would sign it — after Coulter, Limbaugh, and other conservative talking heads criticized the deal.
The president on Friday did not offer specifics on his emergency declaration or his plan to finance the wall, but noted he would siphon funds from elsewhere to pay for it, saying projects like military on-base construction, which would be affected by the financial shake-up, “Didn’t sound too important to me.”
He also admitted the decision would invoke a number of legal challenges, but expressed optimism that he would emerge victorious in the end.