President Donald Trump is in a rush to build his proposed border wall. But does he want it built because he thinks it’s necessary, or because it’ll help his campaign? It appears to be the latter.
According to sources privy to meetings at the White House who spoke to the Washington Post, Trump has told his aides he wants the wall fast-tracked, built right away, even if that means ignoring federal standards or laws that would delay it being built. When aides expressed concern over their being prosecuted or otherwise punished for doing so, the sources said Trump it shouldn’t worry them.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” Trump reportedly said, according to those sources.
The concern by Trump over the speediness of building the border wall (he’s promised to create 500 miles of it within his first term) appears to be less about the need for the wall, and more about his own political futures.
“He said people expected him to build a wall, and it had to be done by the election,” a former White House official said.
A current White House aide to the president brushed off the concerns raised by these sources, saying that the president was merely joking — an excuse that has become commonplace for Trump or his aides to say whenever he makes a controversial statement lately.
There’s a good reason, however, why that aid might be pushing that line of thinking: the abuse of the pardon power, per standards created by the founders of the U.S. government themselves, is an impeachable offense, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington research director Robert Maguire explained in a tweet.
I would just like to casually remind folks that the Founders explicitly discussed the possibility that a president might someday misuse the pardon power.
Their explicit remedy for such a transgression was impeachment. https://t.co/65tUTp3MVy
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) August 28, 2019
Though it appears that Trump is pushing for the wall in order to bolster his re-election chances, the push to produce the wall isn’t something that most Americans want, but rather just what his base of supporters is in favor of. Polling on the issue of the border wall has consistently shown that the American public, in general, is against it.
A Gallup poll from February, for example, demonstrated strong disapproval for construction plans. Just 41 percent approved of extending the current border wall on the U.S. southern border, while a staggering 57 percent opposed the idea.
So far, the Trump administration has built just 60 miles of the border wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico. None of it has been “new” construction, and is merely a replacement of existing wall that was in need of repair or upgrades.