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The White House on Sunday defended President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border and sought to clarify his contradictory statements about its necessity, marking the start of what’s expected to be a drawn-out fight over funding the construction of a wall amid mounting legal challenges and objections from Congress.

Trump’s announcement last week — an attempt to circumvent Congress by redirecting taxpayer money to pay for 230 miles of barriers along the border — has led to lawsuits. On Sunday, California’s attorney general said he was working with officials from at least six other states and would be filing suit against the White House “imminently.” The national emergency declaration also triggered protests, with various groups promising to hold more throughout the country Monday.

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Critics of the administration’s move, which calls for diverting billions of dollars already appropriated to the Defense Department, have seized on some of Trump’s comments as proof he did not need to declare a national emergency. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” Trump said Friday during a hyperbole-filled Rose Garden speech. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

 

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