Trump's national emergency faces legal pushback

Sixteen states file suit against the president, and a new report indicates that White House officials tried to transfer nuclear technology to Saudis.
19:39 | 02/19/19

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Transcript for Trump's national emergency faces legal pushback
And good afternoon you're watching the briefing room I'm ABC's Mary Alice parks and I met my colleague. Then Siegel who covers Capitol Hill for us. And a day after President's Day constitutional questions about president trumps declaration of a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border. A new lawsuit out today sixteen states suing this administration saying about declaration is an abuse of power. We have a quote from dot. Lawsuit here the president has used the pretext. Of a manufactured. Crisis among lawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars. There's a concern among these states that they are going still the president and the administration is gonna take money away from other programs to build this wall band. And he's getting level about foreign. That's right there was a sugar high initially the end of the shut down the signing of the spending bill and the declaration of this national emergency but now Democrats. Empowered across the country it is different state attorneys general. Are now challenging this Democrats in congress could join this lawsuit and this could drag on for a long time. And we're joined now by one of those attorney generals who is sitting. There in Minnesota I think Keith Allison. One of the sixteen states that signed on it to this lawsuit. I and struck by the fact that it is Minnesota. Of all places a thousand miles away from that southwest border that is signing and is this really of the fight for the state of Minnesota to be happening. Well. The answer is yes thin that it did it in this two solid justification that I happen. One is that the separation of powers embedded in our US constitution. Is everybody's business there's nobody who's sort of out of the loop on that when congress. Has the responsibility. Enshrined in the constitution. Two. Of the purse and when the president can invoke emergency powers and then assume that power. And then that is a dangerous thing if there is no legitimate emergency. An emergency we allow it because circumstances dictated. And that's what every other president has been careful to make sure that there was a real emergency. Before I was such powers would be involved because they are awesome and wide ranging. But not this one the second thing is. Is that you know when the president realities. Military. Drug interdiction and National Guard funds. This definitely has the effect and impact in the whole country. No matter how far it may be. And from the border. So this impacts us constitutionally. And actually. We had that quote from you today that that Minnesota National Guard has over thirteen thousand soldiers and airmen. In plays more than 2000 a full time basis. That 96% of the funding for the Minnesota National Guard comes the front of the federal government. And at a loss about funding could negatively impact your state but are you under the impression that that funding is what's on the chopping block here. The president is the one who would get a part of funding. He's going to re allocate it he had Democrat bill sources. As funds he will shift. Problem. The appropriated. This too. His were well. On mr. attorney general thanks. For joining us some Democrats have pointed to what the president has done here. As a possible precedent for a future Democrat in the Oval Office to declare a national emergency on issues like. The appeal a crisis on climate change. On things that Democrats believe are a greater pressing national concern given the fact it now your office is challenging this. Do you believe that this is something that Democrats session not to if if they. Take this back in the in the White House and in considered doing these sorts of actions. No. He should do a good president just did. So look I don't believe the popular crisis is a legitimate emergency. In a certain sense. Well what you but what that really what what do you do what the situation. He's you go to congress to receive this is a serious problem we have the picture let's get together. Can't put the policy in the putting together to address it. That actually has been done. Relative to well. And the point six billion but he wanted. Was rejected. In a democratic process. By the US congress get a bill that he art and visually side. Only a few days ago. So what he's doing now is that even run a route that process. Look there is a legitimate emergency in the president whoever that president may be. Feel that he or she has to invoke emergency powers to solve the problem. You know I'm and may not agree but I won't find within their discretion. Is disarmed actual bases or it. But he has said himself. But there is that I don't need the money I just want to do it faster that is a statement that this is not an emergency. He's also just go up in the legislative process. He didn't like it. In so he's going around. The bottom line is that is they abuse. The constitution. And nobody choose to import. The president seems to concede in the last few days that he could very well lose this case. And circuit courts but that he likes his odds in the Supreme Court is that this lawsuit is definitely hadn't how do you like your odds. Well it is certainly could well be dare I hope and any judge who looks at this issue. We'll saying. The Apollo as this are available to president. Ever be a declaration of an emergency. Soul oh wide ranging. And so home. Relatives. All of our constitution and the rights people have. That they can only be invoked in a legitimate emergency. You know you know look. Abraham Lincoln suspended the radius corpus during the civil war that's an emergency I think wards and emergency. But in a situation like this where the president essentially conceding. They just didn't get what you want it hope that any judgment construe this weather to district court judge Supreme Court. Will take it seriously and understand that they're not. Making a judicial decision for the moment they're not making it for a president who they like or don't like. Negative for the ages for our nation and so I hope. We just don't get. Some partisan. Judicial decision making. At any level of the of our court system including the Supreme Court. I'm really glad to have you on today of all day it's rehab center Bernie Sanders jumping back into the presidential race again. You're one of his original big supporters back in twenty sixteens I want to ask you to get this interview I going to be out their campaign forum can again. In this election cycle. Let me tell you I want to talk to Bernie and other candidates about the executive tell you good. My admiration and respect for Bernie senator Sanders is there's never been higher. But you know what we went through a deliberative process the first time. And we're gonna go do it again this time. And but let me tell you. The movie maybe the problem is that he's fighting for. I responsive. To the needs of the American people better wages more affordable education. Health care that everybody can look Willard. Do and real action on climate I mean you know around. He's Daugherty who is built my friend for many years and I still admire tremendously. Military general Alison thank you so much for joining us it's a busy day for you we appreciate your insight on the slicing think yeah. Thank you. My turn now to our college earning Phelps who's at the White House there Jordan that the president today was and tweeting early about. Not lawsuit today this White House is nervous and they can really lose in court. Yeah I mean the president has senate himself Mary Alice he. Predicts in fact that he will face a couple of losses along the way at that ultimately he feels he will prevail at the Supreme Court the president just. Weighed in on this and gain really unfazed by that new lawsuit. Saying that he had the authority to declare that's national emergency because it was based on national security so the president really feeling confident. In this fight going forward their talents. It's been surprising to watch Republicans. Here on this issue because we have so many into says in the past where Republicans and senate. On matters of national security the White House gets the final say. It is been surprising I think for some to watch the blow back on Capitol Hill even among members of his own party. Yeah I'm Mary Alice no doubt. There are members of the president's own party back to don't want to see this emergency declaration go forward. And it was actually a little surprising to see McConnell. I'm they'll pay that he sent that the government would not shut down expressing that he would back the president in this emergency declaration it seems. Maybe at some sort of agreement reached between those two men. The president would have his backing keeping the government opening McConnell would have Hayes on this emergency declaration by their house it will be interesting to see. If some members of his own party break ranks. When there is a resolution of disapproval in front of congress I attempts to formally say that they are opposed to what the president is doing. But of course Mary oust the president has ultimate Vito power over that and congress would then have to have a super majority and very high bar. To get over that to block the president from moving forward. You're exactly right we heard from house Republicans over the weekend that they are pretty convinced they concede. Eaten. Seem bad meat I didn't say this keep him from not being able to override a veto it would take such a huge number of votes that they could at least stop. The overriding a veto Jordan thank you for bringing us up to speed and looking at what's next Wednesday when that's gonna get your thoughts on a few more headlines to come. But goodly band and what we break down the story that is in the news again today more questions swirling about the relationship between. People close to this president and Saudi Arabia. And house Democrats saying they plan to investigate. Whether or not there were folks that we're trying to profit by a consulting and using their connections through this like. That's right today we get some new details of efforts inside the White House in the early days of the trump administration to advance this plan to essentially build a nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. Now that's a position that some. People in the foreign policy community some people close the White House support because they see that as a way to check Iran's. To a nuclear ambitions in the Middle East but it was someone that was pushed by general Michael Flynn the president's first NASA security advisor. I even though there were concerns that he may have been able to profit from that given some of the consulting work he was doing. During the campaign so the new report today from Elijah Cummings the chairman of the house oversight committee provides a pretty clear snapshot of efforts to push this policy in the White House in the early days of the events investigation. And he's concerned enough that he's gonna continue looking into this now that he has subpoena power. And there are few whistle blowers comments and the government can't Florida send that they had real. Is that the ethics chair that's right there were people who came forward to whistle blowers who came to the committee and essentially said that. They were warning. When people around Flynn advocates of this program that this was an unethical thing to do that it violated the laws that govern nuclear agreements the transfer of nuclear technology between the United States and other countries. And these these advocates were pushing this pot policy after Flynn left the White House and despite the warnings and advice. White House ethics officials of HR McMaster who replace foreign as a national security advisor they were throwing up red flags people were still trying to advance this policy and we know even last week in the White House president trump met with a number of nuclear CEOs from companies that develop nuclear technology in the United States about selling their they're. Their wares in their technology abroad so this is very much an idea that still percolating around the White House around the administration and that's what dumb. Croats want to look at too. This is interesting it's a mere expect that we will hear a lot more about the oversight that Democrats and an adequate support in congress thank you for that. Out we're grant close out with. A big headline from today that's and I feel like I know a lot of power I covered senator Bernie Sanders 120 you know the so it. I do I spent a lot of time with senator Bernie Sanders the first time here and progress and that he's back running for August and Dan running for. The presidency again this time joining five other senators now six total who have thrown their hat in the ring. But even today is about him being back on the campaign trail I think it's important to remember that for a lot of senator Sanders. Supporters he never really winds anywhere in the last two years he's continued. To basically campaigns holding town halls putting out in video is pushing big business on to questions of minimum wage. There's a lot of energy not grassroots energy that he was famous for in two dozen sixteen and is still with him. Today going into this whole new presidential then. Going to be interesting to see how that energy. Exposes itself now that we're he's entering a field of not just two candidates in the democratic primary but it's now whole field and many more possibly some increasing CO that that plays out. That's exactly what I want to talk to Neil saarc about who's a communications director with democracy for America I think we have Neill joining us from Detroit. There is thanks for joining as you know your organization and during his nation endorsed senator Sanders early and decisively last all around but this time your endorsement still up for grabs. Hi. Grasses and it will be what nineteen. Going after his election. You're very early odds are it was the words rock. Three run more campaign and me. Doing a lot of our ever subjected to a number who. We endorse senator Sanders December 20 T afford that price and content. A lot of election. I. And there's a lot election. Of course you're and it really. We. You know candidates writing this time round. Its campaign to target you more or and I really didn't want. Article at the statement that your position put out today says blessed with a diverse field of candidates committed to inclusive populist reforms. We're looking toward a Statehouse senators and the movement behind him makes the case for political revolution in a very different weights when a contest. So what exactly what you and other progress has been looking for. Yeah well we're looking words or fewer number one. The presidential candidate in what went in its. The sound is wearing Orange Bowl. Shed light you know Medicare brawl holidays. Aggressive action on the podium I better. How he. Who. Argue how. That you are you around some white voters are our. Just trying. Use it correctly mythical. Track voters. Are beaten and indeed an eighteen shows that Democrats have to be pretty is turning you didn't show 12016. Rather. And you and increasingly increase and you're swinging voters. Do you think that senator Bernie Sanders has done enough to address so those accusations of sexual harassment and assault with in the ranks of his campaign back to continue to be an issue for have. You know listen I think. There is your nose or it. Ali every single candidate running. Is going to have issues that 88 and today. Concerns that raised by people. Or are we you'll. I think senator is Smart take those concerns seriously and it didn't approve. Will be how is his teenage going lower again. Questioned where are not where we're problem. Each candidates face. How do what Howard Beach and result. In organ. We've seen president trump already sort of alluding to senator Sanders in his recent speeches talking about the evils of socialism. Do think that Bernie Sanders a previous. Identity as a democratic socialists could really hurt his electability. You know I think. Understand. Why Donald Trump wants to run a patriotic. Red scare it's just how much but it candidate run on it. You know when you hear people are concerned it out our how did you know there's an education. Or whether or not there her beauty and culture and what's. People's lot I salute. From her. Wanna how to fight over whether you call this democratic. And in. And what it what we what is going to right now there are Democrats. Current standards and why. And or. Movies I'm usually. I didn't matter. You people oh solution and an additional nations to address. Neil it's not easy for America thank you so much for joining us I really appreciate it surely talking with you a lot. As the Democrats continue to go head to head in this primary process thinking else. They before we wrap L I go back to Jordan there at the White House. We're just talking about the interesting relationship between president trump and Bernie Sanders on the one hand here is talking about the evils of socialism on the other hand today he was. Paying compliments to the senator. Yeah I'm Mary Alice you probably know that's better than anybody it really is we're the president in the Oval Office they are saying that he wishes Bernie Sanders while he has. Sort of this affection for him might think a lot of it goes back to the fact that they both had a common adversary. At least for our timing Hillary Clinton. I'm the president against saying that he feels bad and being sent Bernie Sanders was treated unfairly Stell the president says he thinks Bernie has. Sort of missed his moment and he then spoke straight to camera saying in the end we now only one candidate well when and I think Jonathan that is obviously speaking of. Out in south. Well thank you Jordan for bringing us the insight and it's true bend there were some issues between sixteen campaign where president chomping Bernie Sanders. Sounded so. And one that comes to mind now is the cost of prescription drugs that's something that may be and Nate Washington and a different political climate you might see president trump extend an olive branch to Democrats on the hill like senator Sanders. Actually worked together on something like that it's hard to imagine that happening now with the Sanders in the presidential race and and Trump's position with congressman that was certainly a place where they're where they're policy overlooked. Well thank you so much for watching the briefing room again today for me and Ben Siegel Lee back here tomorrow at every day at 330 he continued all of our coverage. On the web sites and online. Again.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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