Saturday 23 February 2019

Trump claims being president costing him 'massive amounts'

Threat: US President Donald Trump has vowed to declare a national emergency. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Threat: US President Donald Trump has vowed to declare a national emergency. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Nick Allen

Donald Trump has declared being president one of the "great losers of all time" financially, as he lambasted suggestions he was making money out of the office.

The US president also indicated he was preparing to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall on the Mexico border, calling ongoing negotiations with Democrats in Congress a "waste of time".

Mr Trump also said he had been informed he was not personally a "target" in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.

His comments came on a day when it emerged that the US economy added 304,000 jobs in January, almost twice what economists had forecast. Mr Trump tweeted: "JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!"

The president has been accused by critics of violating the "emoluments clause" in the US constitution, which bars gifts from foreign states, due to diplomats and other officials staying at his hotel in Washington, a few blocks from the White House.

But in an interview with the 'New York Times', Mr Trump said he had actually lost out on business opportunities because he was president.

He said: "I lost massive amounts of money doing this job. This is not the money. You know, fortunately, I don't need money. This is one of the great [financial] losers of all time. But they'll say that somebody from some country stayed at a hotel. And I'll say, 'Yeah. But I lose'. The numbers are incredible."

The president also said that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy Attorney General, had been assured Mr Trump was not being targeted by Mr Mueller. He said: "I'm not a subject, I'm not a target."

Mr Trump criticised Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives, who has refused to agree to any of the $5.7bn (€5bn) funding he has requested to build the border wall. If agreement is not reached by February 15, the US government may shut down again.

Mr Trump indicated he would declare a national emergency, allowing him to use military funding for the wall. "I think Nancy Pelosi is hurting our country very badly," Mr Trump said. "I've set the table. I've set the stage for doing what I'm going to do."

Mr Trump, who in recent weeks has expressed indifference to whether the term "wall" or something else is used, clung with renewed tenacity to the word that became his campaign mantra, declaring: "A wall is a wall."

Yet in a series of tweets and statements, he issued conflicting messages about what he'd need to declare victory and suggested that merely repairing existing structures along the boundary could be a major component of a triumph.

Amid signs that Mr Trump's leverage in Congress is atrophying, he seemed to aim one tweet at his conservative followers. He wrote that Democrats "are not going to give money to build the desperately needed wall. I've got you covered. Wall is already being built, I don't expect much help".

Ms Pelosi left the door open for an accord that could finance some barriers, citing what she said was already existing "Normandy fencing" that blocks vehicles.

"If the president wants to call that a wall, he can call that a wall," she said. "Is there a place for enhanced fencing? Normandy fencing would work."

Yet Ms Pelosi's other remark - "there's not going to be any wall money in the legislation" - underscored the linguistic battle under way. It also showed that Democrats see no reason to let Mr Trump claim a win in a cause that stirs his hard-right voters.

Mr Trump's political muscle weakened following the Democrats' capture of House control in the November election. It waned further after his surrender last week in ending a record 35-day partial government shutdown without getting a penny of the $5.7bn he'd demanded for the wall.

In another sign of his flagging hold over lawmakers, the GOP-controlled Senate backed legislation on a 68-23 vote on Thursday that opposes withdrawal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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