Trump: 'Without borders, we don't have a country'

His administration has been drawing up a plan for him to declare a national emergency so he can build the wall without OK from Congress.
3:27 | 01/05/19

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Transcript for Trump: 'Without borders, we don't have a country'
We begin with the government shutdown. Day 14 now. The two-week mark. Tonight, the president is now saying he could declare a national emergency to get his border wall. The president saying the shutdown could last months, even years, he said. There are 800,000 American workers waiting to get paid. Others who will not get back pay. And the president said today those workers are on his side. He said this has a hire purpose than next week's pay. The Democrats saying afterward, you cannot hold hundreds of thousands of workers hostage to the wall. Terry Moran leading us off tonight from the white house. Reporter: Democrats emerged after their marathon meeting with president trump calling the talks contentious, and claiming the president told them he's willing to have the shutdown go on for months or a year. Which trump himself happily confirmed in the rose garden. Did you say that? I did. And is that your -- I did. Is that your assessment of where we are? I did say that. Absolutely I said that. I don't think it will. But I am prepared. Reporter: The president was asked about that moment in the oval office. Would he still say he's proud to own this shutdown? I'm very proud of doing what I'm doing. I don't call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and for the safety of our country. Reporter: Whatever the president calls it, there are 800,000 federal employees, from corrections officers to scientists to janitors and dispatchers, all now furloughed or working without pay. Trump was asked, what's your message to them? This really does have a higher purpose than next week's pay. And the people that won't get next week's pay or the following week's pay, I think if you ever really looked at those people, I think they'd say, Mr. President, keep going. This is far more important. Reporter: But Democrats argue this is all pointless and unnecessary. Don't hold millions of Americans, hundreds of thousands of workers hostage. Open up the government. And let's continue the discussions. Reporter: They say they are willing to talk border security with president trump, just not a wall. The fact is a wall is an immorality. It's not who we are as a nation. Reporter: Now ABC news has learned president trump is considering a kind of nuclear option. His administration has been drawing up a plan for trump to declare a national emergency, so he can go around congress and build the wall himself. Have you considered using emergency powers to grant yourself authorities to build this wall without congressional approval? And second -- I have. Reporter: You have? Yes, I have. And I can do it if I want. Reporter: So, you don't need congressional approval? No, we can absolutely call a national emergency because of the security of our country. Absolutely. No, we can do it. I haven't done it. I may do it. So is that a threat hanging over the Democrats. I never threaten anybody. I am allowed to do that, yes. Terry, your question and that answer making immediate headlines. I want to get to something else. The president was pressed during that briefing on whether there will be any sort of safety net in place to help the 800,000 American workers waiting to get paychecks. Reporter: His answer was that the strong border his policies will achieve is the safety net. The wall is the safety net. He was asked if landlords and bill collectors should be lenient on government workers. They said they should go nice and easy on people who can't pay their rent on bills. David?

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

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