U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a briefing on the federal response to Hurricane Michael at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg)

Ex-DHS Secretary Warns Trump Against an Emergency Declaration

(Bloomberg) -- Jeh Johnson, who was Homeland Security secretary under Barack Obama, said President Donald Trump doesn’t have the authority to declare an emergency at the southern border to force funding of his proposed border wall by redirecting money from other agencies.

Johnson, who also served as general counsel for the Defense Department, said Monday that the authority that Trump has threatened to use is intended for foreign battlefield situations, such as building detention facilities for enemy prisoners. Any plan to take Pentagon funds and transfer them to the Department of Homeland Security for use on the wall would be almost impossible, Johnson said.

“I wouldn’t even go there because I think if you tried to misuse it Congress would take it away,” Johnson said of the emergency power in an interview in New York. He said such “reprogramming” of funds “even within a department requires permission from Congress. Across departments would be very aggressive as a matter of fiscal law.”

Trump’s insistence on money for a border wall -- and equally firm resistance from Democrats in Congress -- has led to a partial government shutdown that’s entering its third week. On Sunday, the president renewed a threat for an end run around Congress, invoking a national emergency to build the wall that was a central promise in his 2016 campaign. Trump said in a tweet on Monday that he’ll discuss the border “crisis” in a prime-time televised address on Tuesday.

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