SEATTLE -- As President Donald Trump announced Friday he will declare a national emergency to fund construction of a border wall, Washington's attorney general was already investigating whether the state had legal standing to sue against the action.
Trump vowed to use his executive powers to bypass Congress, diverting billions of dollars already earmarked for federal military construction and counterdrug efforts to pay for the wall.
"We will have a national emergency," Trump said. "We will then be sued. And they'll sue us in the 9th Circuit even thought it shouldn't be there. And we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll get another bad ruling and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we'll get a fair shake and we'll win in the Supreme Court, just like the ban."
The state of Washington is in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Trump referenced. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has brought 33 lawsuits against the administration so far and has yet to lose a case against the White House.
In an interview Friday, Ferguson said he is seriously considering suing the president over what he considers an unconstitutional emergency declaration.
"I’ve been talking with my team about that, literally in the last hour," he said. "It’s a bit little unclear when the president must identify the specific budgets. We believe we’re likely to have an answer in the next couple of weeks."
"We’ll be very focused on our Washington programs being impacted by this budget grab of the president's," he continued.
Ferguson told Q13 News the only way the state of Washington will sue is if the president tries to pull money out of federally-funded projects in Washington to pay for the wall.
"In those budgets, there are already allocations approved for Washington state -- military construction, for example -- and we’re identifying those," Ferguson said. "If he ultimately grabs those budget funds intended for Washington state projects then I would have deep concerns about that."
The Office of the Attorney General is working with Rep. Adam Smith, D-9th District, who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and is more familiar with the details of the congressional budgets, particularly when it comes to military construction projects, where Trump plans to pull from.
They're looking at which Washington projects could be affected and when the president comes up with his funding sources, they'll see if there's any overlap. If that happens, Ferguson will likely challenge the president in the courts in a case he said is destined for the Supreme Court.
Trump will also get push back in Congress. House Democrats plan to lead a charge to pass a resolution that would end the president's emergency declaration. It is not yet known whether they'll have enough Republicans in the House and Senate to pass it and override a potential presidential veto.
Two of three Republican lawmakers in Washington, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-5th District, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-3rd District, have both said the president is setting a dangerous precedent with this declaration and that he should not be going around Congress to secure funding for the wall.
"They should use whatever power they have at their disposal to try and stop the emergency declaration, and that includes what we’ll do in Congress in terms of passing, I think it’s a resolution of disapproval, that we’d have to do to support that," Smith said of his Republican colleagues. "Let your vote follow up on your rhetoric."
At the time this article was published, the office of the third Republican lawmaker in Washington, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-4th District, has not responded to multiple requests for comment on his stance on the president's national emergency declaration.