November 13, 2019: on the first day of public impeachment hearings, William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy, both testified about President Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., one of his leading political rivals.
Taylor testified that a member of his staff overheard a telephone conversation in which Trump pressed Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, on “the investigations.” Afterward, when the aide asked Mr. Sondland about the president’s thoughts on Ukraine, Mr. Sondland said Trump cared more about “investigations of Biden.” [NYT article]
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
November 15, 2019: Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch appeared at the Democrats’ second open impeachment hearing to discuss her career and the circumstances under which her posting to Kyiv was prematurely halted earlier this year.
She told Congress that she was recalled after a smear campaign led by President Trump’s allies.
Trump criticized her on Twitter even as she testified live on television.
Trump posted two tweets about Yovanovitch during the session that linked her to problems in the troubled countries in which she had been posted and restated the president’s power to appoint and remove diplomats as he wishes. [NPR story]
Trump Impeachment Inquiry/Public
Jennifer Williams and Lt Col Alexander S Vindman testify
November 19, 2019: Jennifer Williams, a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, testified that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told Vice President Pence in September that continuing to withhold military aid would indicate that United States support for Ukraine was wavering, giving Russia a boost in the ongoing conflict between the two countries.
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran and the top Ukraine official at the National Security Council, testified that he was so disturbed by the call that he reported it to the council’s top lawyer.
“What I heard was inappropriate, and I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg,” Colonel Vindman said, referring to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council. “It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.” [NYT article]
November 20, 2019: U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told the House Intelligence Committee on the fourth day of public impeachment hearings that it was clear to him that the president was intently interested in having the Ukrainians publicly commit to investigating Democrats, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., whose son served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Sondland told the committee that he and other advisers to Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Democrats “because the president directed us to do so.”
Sondland said that he, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, were reluctant to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, on the pressure campaign and agreed only at Mr. Trump’s insistence.
Trump Impeachment Inquiry/Public
Fiona Hill/David Holmes
November 21, 2019: in her opening statement, the former top Russia expert on the National Security Council Fiona Hill called for Republicans to stop propagating what she called a “fictional narrative” that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 elections. She called the conspiracy claim a story invented by Russian intelligence services to destabilize the United States and deflect attention from their own culpability.
David Holmes, who worked in the United States Embassy in Kyiv told lawmakers that he overheard President Trump, who was speaking loudly, asking Ambassador Sondland whether Ukraine President Zelensky was “going to do the investigation.” Sondland told Trump that Zelensky “loves your ass,” and would conduct the investigation and do “anything you ask him to,”
According to Holmes’s account, Sondland later told him that Trump cared only about “big stuff that benefits the president” like the “Biden investigation” into the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Sondland largely confirmed that account on Wednesday but said he did not recall specifically mentioning Mr. Biden. [NYT story]
Trump Impeachment Inquiry/Public
Lawyers refuse to participate
December 1, 2019: lawyers for President Trump said that they would not participate in the House Judiciary Committee’s first public impeachment hearing on December 3, airing a long list of complaints that they said prevented “any semblance of a fair process.”
The refusal to send lawyers continued a pattern of stonewalling by Trump, who had sought to block witnesses and documents, as he and his allies called the proceedings “deranged” and a “witch hunt.” People familiar with the president’s legal strategy had said privately that his lawyers were deeply suspicious of taking part in a process they view as unfair to Trump. [NYT article]
Law Scholars testify
December 4, 2019: the House Judiciary Committee began assessing what action to take and what articles of impeachment to draft, if it decided to draft them.
Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., invited witnesses because he said the members of the Judiciary Committee needed to understand the historical and legal context for impeachment in deciding how to proceed.
Three professors of law—Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, Pamela Karlan of Stanford University, and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina—told the Judiciary Committee that they worried deeply about Trump’s actions in the Ukraine affair —and thought they appeared to justify the power of impeachment as enshrined in the Constitution by its framers.
A fourth witness–Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School—said he personally opposed Trump, but differed with the three saying the factual case so far developed against Trump would cheapen impeachment and create a dangerous precedent both for Congress and the executive branch. [NYT article] (see TII/P for expanded chronology)
September 24, 2019: after months of reticence by Democrats who had feared the political consequences of impeaching a president, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would initiate a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, charging him with betraying his oath of office and the nation’s security by seeking to enlist a foreign power to tarnish a rival for his own political gain.
Pelosi’s declaration set the stage for a history-making and exceedingly bitter confrontation between the Democrat-led House and a defiant president who has thumbed his nose at institutional norms.
Call transcript released
September 25, 2019: the White House released a reconstruction of the call that President Trump made to Urkraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump encouraged Zelensky to work with Attorney General William P. Barr and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, on corruption investigations connected to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.
Although there was no explicit quid pro quo in the conversation, Trump raised the matter immediately after Zelensky spoke of his country’s need for more help from the United States. The call came only days after Mr. Trump had blocked $391 million in aid to Ukraine, a decision that perplexed national security officials at the time and for which he gave conflicting explanations. [NYT article]
September 27, 2019: Kurt Volker, theUSspecial envoyforUkraine, stepped down, which means a key player in Trump’s interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has left the administration.
September 28, 2019: House Democrats subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding that he promptly produce a tranche of documents and a slate of witnesses that could shed light on the president’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to help tarnish Joe Biden, Jr..
The subpoena and demands for depositions were the first major investigative actions the House took since it launched impeachment proceedings in light of revelations that Mr. Trump pushed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Biden Jr., possibly using United States aid as leverage. [NYT article]
Trump Impeachment Inquiry
WH will not cooperate
October 8, 2019: the White House announced that it would not cooperate with what it called an illegitimate effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election” and setting the stage for a constitutional clash with far-reaching consequences.
In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House said the inquiry had violated precedent and denied President Trump’s due process rights in such an egregious way that neither he nor the executive branch would willingly provide testimony or documents. [NYT article]
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman charged
October 10, 2019: authorities arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two of Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine contacts, on charges of violating campaign finance laws. Federal investigations were also looking at Giuliani’s financial dealings with the men. The two introduced Trump’s personal lawyer to Ukrainian officials who pushed unfounded theories about corruption involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
George P. Kent testifies
October 15, 2019: George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy, arrived on Capitol Hill to face questions from investigators about his knowledge of the widening Ukraine scandal.
Kent, who appeared behind closed doors despite the State Department directing him not to do so, had raised concerns to colleagues early this year about the pressure being directed at Ukraine by President Trump and his private lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to pursue investigations into Trump’s political rivals, according to people familiar with Kent’s warnings.
As far back as March, they said, Mr. Kent was pointing to Mr. Giuliani’s role in what he called a “disinformation” campaign intended to use a Ukrainian prosecutor to smear targets of the president. [NYT article]
October 17, 2019: US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was directed by to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine, he told Congress and was left with a choice: Abandon efforts to bolster a key strategic alliance or work to satisfy the demands of the President’s personal lawyer.
Sondland said he wasn’t aware until “much later” that Giuliani’s agenda might have included an effort to “prompt the Ukrainians” to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and to involve the Ukrainians in the President’s campaign.
The revealing testimony of the President’s top diplomat showcased how Trump put on hold an effort to strengthen relations with the country until top US officials were in contact with Giuliani, who was pursuing an investigation into the Bidens, a potential political rival in Trump’s reelection campaign. And Sondland said he was “disappointed” that Trump wouldn’t commit to a meeting sought by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky until they spoke with Giuliani. [CNN article]
Mick Mulvaney quid pro quo
October 17, 2019: Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff said that the White House withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to further President Trump’s political interests.
Mulvaney told journalists that the aid was withheld in part until Ukraine investigated an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking Democratic Party emails in 2016 — a theory that would show that Trump was elected without Russian help.
Mulvaney took back the statement later in the day. [NYT article]
Impeachment Inquiry = Lynching
October 22, 2019: President Trump described the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into him a “lynching” and said it was “without due process or fairness or any legal rights.”
The president’s use of the word drew immediate criticism.
“You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING? What the hell is wrong with you,” Representative Bobby L. Rush, Democrat of Illinois and a former Black Panther leader, said in a Twitter post.
October 23, 2019: more than two dozen House Republicans, led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, delayed a deposition hearing in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine.
Gaetz and the group marched into the secure facility at Capitol Hill, where House Democrats were scheduled to interview Pentagon official Laura Cooper, a witness in the probe. Cooper helps oversee U.S. policy regarding Ukraine at the Defense Department. Lawmakers had expected to ask her about the Trump administration’s decision to withhold military aid from the former Soviet nation.
Whistleblower will not sit
October 25, 2019: attorneys for the whistleblower whose complaint kicked off the impeachment inquiry made clear their client would not sit for in-person interviews with investigators on Capitol Hill.
Key quote: “Much of what has been disclosed since the release of our client’s complaint actually exceeds the whistleblower’s knowledge of what transpired at the time the complaint was submitted. Because our client has no additional information about the president’s call, there is no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.”
Charles M. Kupperman no-show
October 28, 2019: despite a subpoena, Charles M. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser and one of Mr. Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers, did not appear to testify. He had notified lawmakers through his lawyer that he would not appear to testify. Kupperman’s lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, said that he was following orders from Trump.
“It is President Trump, and every president before him for at least the last half century, who have asserted testimonial immunity for their closest confidential advisers,” Cooper, wrote. [NYT article]
Trump Impeachment Inquiry
October 29, 2019
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman
October 29, 2019: Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council (a decorated Iraq war veteran) told House impeachment investigators that the White House transcript of a July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president omitted crucial words and phrases, and that his attempts to include them failed, according to three people familiar with the testimony.
The omissions, Colonel Vindman said, included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.
Vindman twice registered internal objections about how Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” according to his opening statement.
Vindman was the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. [NYT article]
October 29, 2019: House Democrats unveiled a resolution reaffirming their impeachment inquiry and setting out the process for it to continue examining whether the president improperly tried to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation into a potential political rival.
The measure would enable public hearings and a release of the witness interviews already taken by House committees and would allow the president and his attorneys to cross-examine witnesses.
The move came after congressional Republicans and President Trump complained that the inquiry underway was unfair and lacked due process.
The resolution stated that after the inquiry phase was over, the investigating committees would send their findings to the House Judiciary Committee, which would determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment. [NPR story]
October 30, 2019: according to a copy of Anderson’s opening statement obtained by NPR, Christopher Anderson, a career foreign service officer in the State Department, told House impeachment investigators that President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani stood in the way of the White House strengthening ties with Ukraine,.
Anderson, who spent five years working on Washington-Kyiv relations, described a meeting he had with former national security adviser John Bolton on the topic of having senior White House officials engage more with Ukraine. In it, Bolton noted a possible hitch.
“He cautioned that Mr. Giuliani was a key voice with the President on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement,” Anderson told the House committee. [NPR story]
October 31, 2019: the House of Representatives voted to endorse the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump, in an action that set up a critical new public phase of the process.
The vote was 232-196 to approve a resolution that set out rules for an impeachment process for which there were few precedents and which promised to consume the country a little more than a year before the 2020 elections. It was only the third time in modern history that the House had taken a vote on an impeachment inquiry into a sitting president.
Two Democrats broke with their party to vote against the measure, while Republicans — under immense pressure from Trump to shut down the impeachment inquiry altogether — unanimously opposed it.
Minutes after the vote, the White House press secretary denounced the process as “a sham impeachment” and “a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the president.” [NYT article]
The whistleblower had previously offered to answer lawmakers’ questions under oath and in writing if they were submitted by the House Intelligence Committee as a whole. This new offer would be a direct channel of communication with the Republicans who are in the minority on that committee. Republican leadership has complained that the process is unfair and overly restrictive on their ability to question witnesses. [CNN story]
Trump Impeachment Inquiry
November 4, 2019: four top White House officials who were supposed to testify for the House’s impeachment inquiry declined to appear. John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council, failed to show up on Capitol Hill for his scheduled deposition time. He is believed to have made the call to lock down records of President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a special system.
Eisenberg’s deputy, Michael Ellis, Rob Blair, who served as an adviser to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on national security issues, and Brian McCormack, an energy official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, also did not testify.
The inquiry also hundreds of pages of transcripts from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who testified on Oct. 11, and Michael McKinley, a former adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who testified Oct. 16. [NPR story]
Gordon D. Sondland/Quid pro quo
November 5, 2019: in four new pages of sworn testimony released on this date, Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union offered Congress substantial new testimony revealing that he told Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, that the country likely would not receive American military aid unless it publicly committed to investigations President Trump wanted.
Sondland’s disclosure confirmed his involvement in essentially laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that he had previously not acknowledged. [NYT story]
Trump Impeachment Inquiry
On November 13, 2019, the impeachment inquiry began its public hearings.
Trump Impeachment Inquiry
November 15, 2019: David Holmes confirmed to House impeachment investigators that he had overheard a call between President Trump and a top American diplomat in July in which the president asked whether Ukraine was going to move forward with an investigation he wanted.
Holmes, testified privately that he was at a restaurant in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, when he overheard Trump on a cellphone call loudly asking Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals. Mr. Sondland, who had just come from a meeting with top Ukrainian officials and the country’s president, replied in the affirmative.
December 3, 2019: House Democrats released an impeachment report that found the president “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”
The report by the House Intelligence Committee was a sweeping indictment of the president’s behavior, concluding that he sought to undermine American democracy and endangered national security, then worked to conceal his actions from Congress. Democrats left it to another committee to decide whether to recommend Mr. Trump’s impeachment, but their report presented what are all but certain to be the grounds on which the House votes to formally charge him. [NYT article] (see TII for expanded chronology)
The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third president in history to be charged with committing high crimes and misdemeanors and face removal by the Senate.
On a day of constitutional consequence and raging partisan tension, the votes on the two articles of impeachment fell largely along party lines, after a bitter debate that stretched into the evening and reflected the deep polarization gripping American politics in the Trump era. [NYT story]
June 16, 2015: Donald Trump announced his campaign for the presidency and first mentioned his idea to build a southern border wall.
“I will build a great wall ― and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me ―and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Throughout his campaign, Trump regularly used a call and response with his crowds to reinforce his promise to build a wall and vilified immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America.
President Trump Wall
It’s not a fence…
August 25, 2015: Candidate Trump tweeted: Jeb Bush just talked about my border proposal to build a “fence.” It’s not a fence, Jeb, it’s a WALL, and there’s a BIG difference!
April 1, 2016: Candidate Trump tweeted: We must build a great wall between Mexico and the United States!
Aug. 31, 2016 — Candidate Trump met in Mexico City with Pena Nieto. The subject of who will pay for the border wall did not come up. At a news conference following their meeting, Pena Nieto said the bilateral relationship should be based on mutual respect.
September 1, 2016: Candidate Trump tweeted: Mexico will pay for the wall – 100%! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #ImWithYou
November 10, 2016: two days after the election Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani stated in a CNN interview that President-elect Trump doesn’t need the support of Congress to build the wall; he can simply accomplish it through executive order. He also maintained that large portions of the wall have already been approved:
“The wall is going to take a while. Obviously he’s going to build it. It’s a campaign promise. He’s not going to break a campaign promise..he can do it by executive order by just reprogramming money within the, within the immigration service…And not only that, they have actually approved a wall for certain portions of the border that hasn’t even been built yet. So you could take a year building that out, with what has been approved.”
STAHL (60 Minutes): You’re— you know, they are talking about a fence in the Republican Congress, would you accept a fence?
TRUMP: For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction…there could be some fencing.
January 11, 2017: after repeating many times that Mexico would pay for the wall and in what would turn out to be the first of many contentious press conferences, President Trump clarified that Mexico might not be paying the upfront costs for the wall after all.
“I want to get the wall started. I don’t want to wait a year and a half until I make my deal with Mexico. They will reimburse us for the cost of the wall, whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment. Probably less likely that it’s a payment.”
President Trump Wall
Mexico will pay back later…
January 6, 2017: President Trump tweeted: The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!
January 24, 2017: President Trump tweeted: Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!
In accordance with existing law, including the Secure Fence Act and IIRIRA, take all appropriate steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border;
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto then responded in an official address. He stated:
I am dismayed by and condemn the decision made by the United States to continue building a wall that for many years, far from uniting us, has divided us. Mexico does not believe in walls. I have said it again and again: Mexico will not pay for any wall.
January 26, 2017: Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, cancelled his scheduled meeting with President Donald J. Trump in Washington the following week, rejecting the visit after Trump ordered a border wall between the two nations.
President Trump Wall
February 6, 2017: some Republican lawmakers expressed skepticism that the border wall was worth the price tag and asked that Trump offer off-sets for the cost.
Texas Senator, John Cornyn said: “I have concerns about spending un-offset money, which adds to the debt, period. I don’t think we’re just going to be able to solve border security with a physical barrier because people can come under, around it and through it.”
February 9, 2017: a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security put the cost of building the wall (and fencing) at around three times as much as Trump originally estimated, $21 billion in total, and estimates that construction would take at least three years to complete. The report did not take into account “major physical barriers, like mountains, in areas where it would not be feasible to build.”
February 24, 2017: via the website FedBizOpps.govthe federal government posted their intention to request proposals from construction companies on March 6 to build the wall. The posting read:
The Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends on issuing a solicitation in electronic format on or about March 6, 2017 for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico. The procurement will be conducted in two phases, the first requiring vendors to submit a concept paper of their prototype(s) by March 10, 2017, which will result in the evaluation and down select of offerors by March 20, 2017. The second phase will require the down select of phase 1 offerors to submit proposals in response to the full RFP by March 24, 2017, which will include price. Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort. An option for additional miles may be included in each contract award.
The deadline was eventually delayed until April 4.
We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders…For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.
March 16, 2017: President Trump unveiled his budget blueprintfor 2018, which included $2.6 billion for the wall. In the spending outline for the Department of Homeland Security it read:
The President’s 2018 Budget…Secures the borders of the United States by investing $2.6 billion in high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology, including funding to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border
He also requests $1.5 billion to be added to spending for the current fiscal year. The administration began to that the funding for the wall be tied to the spending bills aimed at preventing government shutdown at the end of April.
President Trump Wall
A solar wall…
June 21, 2017: Trump told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall so it creates energy and pays for itself and this way Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that’s good, right? Is that good?”
The solar wall idea was later abandoned.
President Trump Wall
A see-thru wall…
July 12, 2017: Trump added a new component to the wall: it had to be see-through. And, for the first time, he proposed a “steel wall with openings.”
“One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One. “So it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.
“When they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them – they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over.”
January 11, 2018: Trump explained to The Wall Street Journal that border officials told him “they need see-through” and indicated a concrete wall might be the wrong thing because of that.
“We need a form of fence or window,” Trump said.
“If you have a wall this thick and it’s solid concrete from ground to 32 feet high, which is a high wall, much higher than people planned. You go 32 feet up and you don’t know who’s over here,” he explained. “If you don’t know who’s there, you’ve got a problem.”
He also said the wall did not need to run the course of the entire border because of natural barriers. But he also insisted “the wall’s identical” to what he promised on the campaign trail.
January 18, 2018: Trump tweeted in response to a Washington Post report that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had said “a concrete wall from sea to shining sea” was not going to happen and that Trump’s campaign promises about the wall were “uninformed.”
All of the designs were concrete, but only one included the see-through component Trump said was necessary. He also repeated the need for a tall wall, comparing some migrants to “professional mountain climbers.”
“We want to make it perfecto,” he said of the wall.
December 21, 2018: President Trump shared a design of a tall fence on Twitter, which he referred to as a “Steel Slat Barrier.”
“Totally effective while at the same time beautiful!” he said.
President Trump Wall
Partial shutdown commences
December 22, 2018: with Democratic leaders refusing to provide funds for President Trump’s wall project and President Trump refusing to negotiate to a budget compromise, a partial shutdown of the federal government began.
December 25, 2018: President Trump said, “”I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want. But it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into our country.”
December 31, 2018: “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media,” President Trump tweeted ahead of New Year’s Eve. “Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!”
“The president still says ‘wall’ – oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it,” Kelly told the Times.
President Trump Wall
The Wall is coming
January 5, 2019: with Trump and the Democratic leadership remaining adamant in their positions on building a wall, in a tweet President Trump referenced the popular Game of Thrones slogan, Winter Is Coming, with “The Wall is Coming,” with a picture of himself over the wall.
January 6, 2019:President Trump tweeted, “”We are now planning a Steel Barrier rather than concrete. It is both stronger & less obtrusive. Good solution, and made in the U.S.A.”
January 8, 2019: President Trump made a national address on the escalating controversy over U.S.-Mexico border wall funding, which was continued to cause a partial federal government shutdown.
January 9, 2019: President Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not fund a border wall even if he agreed to reopen the government, escalating a confrontation that has shuttered large portions of the government for 19 days and counting.
Democrats emerged from the meeting in the White House Situation Room declaring that the president had thrown a “temper tantrum” and slammed his hands on the table before leaving with an abrupt “bye-bye.” Republicans disputed the hand slam and blamed Democratic intransigence for prolonging the standoff.
The president said he would extend the legal status of those facing deportation and support bipartisan legislation that would allow some immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, known as Dreamers, to keep their work permits and be protected from deportation for three more years if they were revoked.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said ahead of his remarks that she considered his proposal a “nonstarter,” in part because it offered no permanent pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
January 25, 2019: Trump agreed to reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations continued over how to secure the nation’s southwestern border, backing down after a monthlong standoff failed to force Democrats to give him billions of dollars for his long-promised wall.
Grisham announced the partial withdrawal shortly before Trump’s State of the Union address. Her Republican predecessor deployed National Guard troops to the border in April 2018 at Trump’s suggestion, and 118 remained there before Tuesday’s reversal.
“New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.
At the same time, the governor said a small contingent — around a dozen guardsmen — will remain in the southwestern corner of the state to assist with humanitarian needs in a remote corridor for cross-border immigration. She also mobilized state police to assist local law enforcement.
California Troop withdrawal
February 11, 2019: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California ordered the withdrawalof nearly 400 of his state’s National Guard troops from deployment along the border with Mexico and assigned them to other duties.
The step to rescind state authorization for the border deployment was a sharp rebuke of President Trump’s continued warnings that undocumented migrants present a national security risk to the United States.
Under a “general order,”110 California National Guard troops would be redirected to support the state’s central fire agency, Cal Fire, and another 100 will work on statewide “intelligence operations” aimed at international criminal drug gangs.
February 15, 2019: President Trump declared a national emergency on the border with Mexico in order to access billions of dollars that Congress refused to give him to build a wall there, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a confrontation over the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.
Trying to regain momentum after losing a grinding two-month battle with lawmakers over funding the wall, Mr. Trump asserted that the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants from Mexico constituted a profound threat to national security that justified unilateral action.
“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it one way or the other,” he said in a televised statement in the Rose Garden barely 13 hours after Congress passed a spending measure without the money he had sought. “It’s an invasion,” he added. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”
The suit, filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco, argued that the president did not have the power to divert funds for constructing a wall along the Mexican border because it was Congress that controls spending. [Read the full lawsuit here.]
House votes to overturn emergency
February 26, 2019: the House voted to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border, with just 13 Republicans joining Democrats to try to block his effort to divert funding to a border wall without congressional approval.
House Republican leaders kept defections low after feverishly working to assuage concerns among rank-and-file members about protecting congressional powers and about the precedent that Trump could be setting for Democratic presidents to use for their own purposes.
“Shoot them in the legs”
In March 2019: at an Oval Office meeting, President Trump ordered advisors to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.
The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries.
Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him. [NYT article]
Money for the Wall
March 10, 2019: President Trump requested $8.6 billion in the annual budget proposal for a border wall. He also asked Congress for another $3.6 billion to replenish military construction funds he had diverted to begin work on the wall by declaring a national emergency, for a total of $12.2 billion.
Senate votes to overturn emergency
March 14, 2019: the Senate easily voted to overturnPresident Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border, delivering a bipartisan rebuke to what lawmakers in both parties deemed executive overreach by a president determined to build his border wall over Congress’s objections.
The 59-41 vote on the House-passed measure set up the first veto of Trump’s presidency. It was not overwhelming enough to override Mr. Trump’s promised veto, but Congress has now voted to block a presidential emergency declaration for the first time — and on one of the core promises that animated Mr. Trump’s political rise, the vow to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
“Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway,” Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said. “The problem with this is that after a Revolutionary War against a king, our nation’s founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom.”
March 15, 2019: as he had said he would, President Trump vetoed the bill denying his declaration of a national emergency.
March 26, 2019:the House failed to overturn President Trump’s veto, leaving the declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border intact despite the bipartisan passage of a resolution attempting to nullify the president’s circumvention of Congress to fund his border wall.
The 248-to-181 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to kill the national emergency declaration.
Litigation stops funds
US District Court
May 24, 2019: Judge Haywood Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction that prevented the Trump administration from redirecting funds under the national emergency declaration issued on February 15.
Gilliam, who is overseeing a pair of lawsuits over border wall financing, ruled that the administration’s efforts likely overstepped the president’s statutory authority.
The injunction applied specifically to some of the money the administration intended to allocate from other agencies, and it limited wall construction projects in El Paso, Tex., and Yuma, Ariz.
The ruling quoted from a Fox News interview with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, in which he said that the wall “is going to get built, with or without Congress.”
US Appeals Court
July 3, 2019: the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld a block on President Trump’s attempt to use $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense to construct a wall along the southwestern border.
The divided three-judge panel agreed with a lower court’s decision that ruled the Trump administration did not have the authority to reallocate the funds without congressional approval. The administration immediately appealed.
Two of the three judges on the panel affirmed that the administration could not build the barriers during future challenges.
“We conclude that it is best served by respecting the Constitution’s assignment of the power of the purse to Congress, and by deferring to Congress’s understanding of the public interest as reflected in its repeated denial of more funding for border barrier construction.”
July 26, 2019: the Supreme Court gave President Trump a victory in his fight for a wall along the Mexican border by allowing the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction.
In a 5-to-4 ruling, the court overturned an appellate decision and said that the administration could tap the money while litigation over the matter proceeds. But that will most likely take many months or longer, allowing Mr. Trump to move ahead before the case returns to the Supreme Court after further proceedings in the appeals court.
October 15, 2019: President Trump issued his second veto against legislation seeking to end his national emergency at the southwestern border, rejecting bipartisan objections to his efforts to obtain funds for a border wall.
His veto returned the resolution to Congress where it was unlikely to garner the two-thirds majority needed there to override the veto.
The announcement came exactly seven months after Trump had issued the first veto of his presidency against a nearly identical resolution that would have terminated the national emergency. He declared the emergency earlier this year after Congress declined to designate money for his border wall; he has sought to allocated funds from other government agencies to the southwestern border.
Trump, announcing the veto, noted that he had vetoed the earlier measure “because it was a dangerous resolution that would undermine United States sovereignty and threaten the lives and safety of countless Americans.” [NYT article]
Cutting through the wall
November 2, 2019: according to the Washington Post, smugglers were using a commercial saw to cut through newly built sections of the president’s wall— which is made of steel bollards that are partially filled with concrete.
The tool can cut through the wall’s steel and concrete in minutes when fitted with the appropriate blades, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have said. After cutting the steel bollards, smugglers have taken to returning them to their original positions in hope of reusing the passage without being detected by border officials.
Agents mended the breach, however, repaired sections are still targeted by smugglers, as it was easier to cut through the welded metal than to make new cuts. And the repair policy had also been targeted by smugglers who attempt to fool agents into believing a severed bollard has been fixed by applying putty to the site of the cut. [VOX story]
Funding Wall limited
December 10, 2019: Judge David Briones of the US District Court for the Western District of Texassaid that the administration cannot use military construction funds to build additional barriers on the southern border.
The ruling was a setback for the administration, which has sought to shore up money for the President’s signature campaign promise of a border wall, and marks yet another high-profile blow the courts have dealt Trump on key issues, including his immigration policies and his fight to not turn his tax returns over to Congress. It targeted only one set of Pentagon funds, however, leaving in place the money the Supreme Court allowedto be used earlier this year. [CNN article]
The ruling marked a victory for President Donald Trump, who had sought to shore up funds for his signature border wall. The money was separate from other funds that the Supreme Court allowed to be used last year on July 26, 2019. The case was still ongoing.
January 19 2020: based on a status report that U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is overseeing wall construction, had released, on this date, NPR reported that the pricetag for President Trump’s border wall had topped $11 billion — or nearly $20 million a mile — and would become the most expensive wall of its kind anywhere in the world. $11 billion had been identified since Trump took office to construct 576 miles of a new “border wall system.”
February 7, 2020: CBS News reported that US border contractors had begun “controlled blasting” at a sacred burial grounds where members of the Tohono O’odham Nation buried their ancestors to make way for President Donald Trump’s US-Mexico border wall
The site is located inside Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on land adjacent to the Tohono O’odham Nation. Archaeologists touring the site before construction said they found human remains dating back 10,000 years.
“The construction contractor has begun controlled blasting, in preparation for new border wall system construction, within the Roosevelt Reservation at Monument Mountain in the US Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector,” the US Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.
President Trump Wall
Trump Boasts About His Wall
June 23, 2020: the NY Times reported that President Trump traveled to Yuma, Arizona with a renewed anti-immigrant appeal, bragging about the progress his administration has made in constructing a “big, beautiful wall.”
“My administration has done more than any administration in history to secure our southern border,” Mr. Trump boasted, citing the completion of about 220 miles of what he called a “powerful new” wall on the border. “It’s the most powerful and comprehensive border wall structure anywhere in the world.”
Border and immigration officials lauded his “leadership and determination” and repeatedly thanked the president for what Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, called “220 new miles of wall system that gives us an enhanced capability that we never had.”
In fact, all but three of the 216 miles of border wall constructed by the Trump administration are essentially much larger replacements of existing, dilapidated fences or vehicle barriers — a fact that Mr. Trump and his immigration advisers routinely dismiss.
President Trump Wall
October 9, 2020: the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that President Trump’s use of emergency powers to allocate millions of dollars in funding for the construction of a southern border wall was illegal, the latest blow to the Trump administration’s effort to limit immigration.
In the 2-1 decision, the court upheld a December 2019 district court summary judgment in favor of a request from the advocacy groups the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition against Defense Secretary Mark Esper, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and “all persons acting under their direction … from using military construction funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall.” [The Hill article]
President Trump Wall
January 12, 2021: a week before the end of his term, President Trump traveled to Alamo, Texas, near the border, to mark the completion of more than 450 miles of the border wall.
The wall, which Trump repeatedly cited over the last four years as an accomplishment, cost US taxpayers — not Mexico — billions and became emblematic of the President’s restrictionist immigration policies, which largely sealed the US off from immigrants and refugees.
During a brief speech near the wall, Trump listed off a series of those policies, citing them as accomplishments and calling them “historic.”
Many of the policies rolled out over the last four years were unprecedented, including requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their immigration court date in the US and swiftly removing migrants arriving at the southern border under a public health order. Immigrant advocates and lawyers had challenged the policies in court, arguing that they put migrants in harm’s way. [CNN article]
President Trump Wall
Trump Exits; Biden Enters
January 20, 2021: President Biden halted construction of President Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The order included an “immediate termination” of the national emergency declaration that had allowed the Trump administration to redirect billions of dollars to the wall. It said the administration would begin “a close review” of the legality of the effort to divert federal money to fund the wall. [NYT article]
President Trump Wall
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