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Trump says he may build wall without Congressional approval

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Posted at 1:06 PM, Jan 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-04 17:30:15-05

(KGTV and wire reports) -- In a lengthy press conference with reporters in the White House Rose Garden on Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he would consider building a wall without approval from Congress.

His remarks came after he met with Democratic Congressional leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, about ending the partial government shutdown.

"Yes, I have. And I can do it if I want," Trump told a reporter when he was asked if has considered using emergency powers to build his wall and secure the $5.6 billion needed for construction.

The reporter then asked if that means he doesn't need Congressional approval to build the wall.

"Absolutely," Trump said. "We can call a national emergency. I haven't done it. I may do it. I may do it. We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. It's another way of doing it."

The White House message during the shutdown has been that there is a "national security emergency" at the border.

Asked if that was a threat to Democrats, Trump replied, "I never threaten anybody, but I am allowed to do it -- call a national emergency."

ABC News, citing sources, reported Friday that Trump's administration could reprogram funds from the Department of Defense and elsewhere – a move which would circumvent Congress – to build the wall.

"Sources tell ABC News the discussions are still on the 'working level' adding that there's a range of legal mechanisms that are being considered before such a decision is announced," ABC News reported.

CNN reported that Trump and three officials from the Department of Homeland Security met in December to look at "options that would allow Trump to build the border wall by tapping into military funding if he was unable to secure the money he wants from Congress."

"Two officials said that the Pentagon believes that there is roughly $1-2 billion that could be set aside from the Defense Department budget to fund this effort," CNN reported.

Trump is facing newly empowered House Democrats who are refusing to budge issue of wall funding.

Trump and top democrats met early Friday for nearly two hours. Both sides had differing views about the meeting -- Pelosi called the meeting "contentious" while Trump said the talks were "productive."

On Thursday, Pelosi dug into the Democrats refusal to fund Trump's wall. "We are not doing a wall," calling the proposed structure an "immorality."

Trump said there are plans to continue discussions on ending the shutdown through the weekend. It was not clear who would be part of those meetings.

ABC News and CNN contributed to this report.