President Donald Trump on Friday issued the first veto of his presidency, defying a bipartisan rebuke of the national emergency he declared to circumvent Congress to get more money for his proposed southern border wall.
The president invited cameras into the Oval Office to record the moment, saying, “As president, protection of the American people is my highest priority.”
Surrounded by law enforcement officials and families of those allegedly killed by undocumented immigrants, he rejected the resolution as “reckless,” calling the situation with illegal immigration a “tremendous emergency” and a “tremendous crisis.”
“People hate the word invasion, but that’s what it is,” Trump said.
Attorney General William Barr was on hand to tell the president that his emergency declaration was “clearly consistent with the law.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told him that the fact that it was an emergency was “undeniable.”
The president’s veto was in response to a resolution that passed the Senate Thursday with the support of 12 Republican senators, who joined Democrats in voting down the president’s action as executive overreach. The House had previously passed the measure.
Even though the resolution passed both the House and Senate, it’s unlikely there would be enough votes to override his veto.
Regardless, the president and White House had engaged in a behind-the-scenes lobbying effort of Senate Republicans in the days before the Senate vote, which amounted to a stunning rejection of the president in his effort to advance one of his central policy priorities.
Within minutes of the Senate vote, he sent a one-word tweet: “VETO!”
Prior to that vote, the president seemed nonchalant about the prospect of having the issue his first veto but also accused Republicans of “overthinking” the issue as he sought to boil it down to a matter of border security.
“I’ll probably have to veto. It won’t be overturned and the legal scholars say it’s totally constitutional,” Trump said on Thursday. “It is very important. It is a border security vote. It is pure and simple, a vote for border security.”
On Friday, he tweeted that he’d “like to thank all of the Great Republican Senators who bravely voted for Strong Border Security and the Wall.”