What to Watch for in Trump’s Oval Office Speech on the Border Standoff

What to Watch for in Trump’s Oval Office Speech on the Border Standoff


As the partial government shutdown stretches toward its 19th day, President Trump’s nationally televised address at 9 p.m. ET — his first from the Oval Office — should answer a host of questions:

  • Will the president seek to declare a national emergency at the border and seek to build a wall without approval from Congress?
  • Will he continue to reframe the battle as being about a massive “humanitarian crisis”?
  • Will he make any overtures toward compromise with the Democrats, who have been steadfast in rejecting funding for a wall?

The answers, as of now, appear to be no, yes and no.

Trump’s speech, and his planned trip to the southern border on Thursday, “suggest the once-sleepy shutdown fight is about to enter a new phase: an all-out messaging war,” write Mike Lillis and Scott Wong at The Hill. As part of that PR campaign, the Trump White House “is increasingly positioning the situation at the southern border as a global humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, for which the same old solutions will not be sufficient,” Politico notes. (Numerous experts have said that the administration is overstating the national security threat at the border and critics have charged that the administration is partly to blame for the humanitarian issues.)

The bottom line: That “humanitarian crisis” framing likely won’t do much to resolve the impasse, as Trump still insists on $5.7 billion in funding for a wall or barrier of some sort and Democrats are resolute in rejecting any money for that purpose.