Accuracy in Media

President Trump expects the government will prevail in all the lawsuits filed against it over his decision to declare a national emergency and reprogram some Department of Defense funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

But the mainstream media reporting on the issue almost exclusively ignores the president’s legal claims in favor of those of his opponents.

The New York Times comes closest to explaining how Trump might win. It points out in “16 States Sue to Stop Trump’s Use of Emergency Powers to Build Border Wall,” by Charlie Savage and Robert Pear, that he might indeed hold the upper hand.

“The Trump administration will have a powerful argument to invoke: In the National Emergencies Act, Congress defined no standard for what conditions have to be met before a president may determine that a qualifying crisis exists,” Savage and Pear wrote.  

“But before a judge could weigh whether Mr. Trump invoked the statute legitimately, he or she would have to decide whether the dispute is properly before the court in the first place.”

It’s not even certain the wall built with the funding in question would be in New Mexico or California – two of the 16 states that joined the lawsuit – and there certainly will be no border fences built in New York, New Jersey, Hawaii or Maryland, other states that joined in, the Times wrote.

Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general and the ring leader of this lawsuit, said states can demonstrate harm in other ways – including if they “lose funding that they paid for with their tax dollars, money that was destined for drug interdiction or for the Department of Defense for military men and women and military installations.”

The Washington Post confined itself to extolling how big the opposition was to Trump’s move in “Coalition of state sues Trump over national emergency to build border wall,” by Amy Goldstein.

“The complaint, filed by the attorneys general of nearly a third of the states and representing millions of Americans, immediately became the heavyweight among a rapid outpouring of opposition to the president’s emergency declaration,” Goldstein wrote.

Several nonprofits have announced they will sue. Protesters “took to the streets in several cities Monday,” the Post wrote without providing any photos or other evidence these protests actually took place.

It repeated the line that Trump planned to “divert … $2.5 billion from Defense Department efforts to fight illicit drugs,” even though fighting drugs, human trafficking and illegal immigration is the stated purpose of the emergency declaration.

Indeed, it later says states will try to demonstrate harm from Trump’s declaration because of “weakened drug-fighting efforts and damage to states’ economies.”

In “16 states sue the Trump administration over national emergency declaration” – subhead: “They’re contesting the president’s attempt to move funding around for his border wall” – by Li Zhou, Vox states incorrectly Congress has “explicitly declined to fund” the wall. But the legislation passed last week to keep the government open did include wall funding –$1.375 billion – after Democrat congressional leaders had vowed not provide even $1 for the wall.

As for the possibility Trump might prevail, Vox wrote: “It’s unclear whether the states or activist groups have a firm enough legal footing to win their respective challenges against Trump. But it’s certain that there will be many lawsuits filed over the emergency declaration.”

Congress could pass a resolution to terminate the declaration, Vox wrote, if both chambers approve it by a simple majority. But Trump would surely veto it, and a two-thirds vote would be required to override the veto. “Given Republicans’ aversion to explicitly confronting Trump, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to reach that threshold.”

Time magazine noted states contend wall-building will hurt their economies, deprive their military bases of needed upgrades, divert counter-drug efforts from more productive uses and “harm wildlife.”

It quoted the attorney general saying the president “treats the rule of law with utter contempt” and the governor, Gavin Newsom, accusing the president of “manufacturing a crisis.”

But it does not explain the legal arguments Trump might use at all.

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