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9 of the most bizarre moments from Trump's rambling border wall press conference

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of the many outlandish moments.

by Rex Santus
Feb 15 2019, 6:08pm

When Donald Trump said he'd declare a national emergency to tap into $8 billion to build his border wall on Friday, the announcement was rambling and bizarre — even for him.

During his off-the-cuff and meandering press conference in the White House Rose Garden, Trump's usual fear-mongering about immigrants took center stage. He rattled off an array of bizarre statements and falsehoods about the U.S. southern border, which he said was under "invasion." But the president also touched on a number of other odd points and even appeared to mimic Chinese President Xi Jinping's accent when quoting him.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of the many outlandish things Trump said in his announcement.

Trump said the U.S. is under “invasion”

On several occasions during the press conference, Trump said that the U.S. was under invasion at its southern border.

"Invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people,” Trump said. “And it's unacceptable.”

The facts show that illegal border crossings are at their lowest point in decades: In 2017, law enforcement reported the fewest amount of arrests of people trying to cross illegally into the U.S. since 1971.

Trump said he didn’t even need to declare a national emergency

Although he did, in fact, declare a national emergency, Trump said he didn’t even have to — he just felt like it.

“I didn't need to do this,” Trump said.

Except he did: Congress’ spending deal offered Trump just $1.37 billion for his wall, far short of the $5.7 billion he originally asked for and the $8 billion in total he can access with the emergency declaration.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, seeing an obvious opening to poke holes in Trump’s legal case for the emergency declaration, quickly latched onto this quote.

Trump sort of sang about all the legal challenges he’ll face

Just moments after Trump announced he would sign an executive order to declare a state of emergency, he also admitted that he knew he’d be sued. The president adopted a sing-song cadence as he listed out a series of legal procedural steps that will likely happen.

"And we will then be sued and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court and then we'll win in the Supreme Court,” Trump said.

For the record, Trump will almost certainly face a host of legal challenges that question his expansion of president power. And journalists and lawyers have pointed out that his "I didn't need to do this" comment hurts his case for the "emergency" declaration if it ends up a courtroom, which is likely.

Trump imitated Xi Jinping

Trump appeared to mimic of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s accent while pointing to the death penalty as a reasonable solution to combating drug crimes.

"’We give death penalty to people who sell drugs,’” Trump said, quoting President Xi in praise of the tough-on-crime drug policy.

Trump cited fake crime statistics about El Paso

Trump returned to one of his favorite — and false — examples of crime at the border: El Paso, Texas. The president said thousands of murders happened just beyond the border fence in the border city.

“In El Paso, they have close to 2,000 murders right on the other side of the wall,” Trump said, a false statement. He also inflated that number from 1,200 when he offered the same talking point at an El Paso rally on Monday.

Trump upset El Paso leaders, including Republicans, when he claimed in his State of the Union address last week that the city had been a crime-ridden disaster before it erected a fence on its border with Mexico — a claim that is demonstrably false, according to El Paso crime data.

“El Paso was never one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. We‘ve had a fence for 10 years and it has impacted illegal immigration and curbed criminal activity, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican, said on Twitter. “It is not the sole deterrent. Law enforcement in our community continues to keep us safe.”

Trump told a reporter to “sit down”

Trump became visibly angry when CNN’s Brian Karem asked the president where he gets his data about crime at the U.S.’ southern border.

“I get my numbers from a lot of sources,” Trump said.

Karem countered that figures show there’s “not violence” at the border, which caused Trump to immediately interrupt and begin shouting.

“Sit down! Sit down,” Trump shouted and refused to allow Karem to ask another question.

Trump invented a kidnapping scenario

Trump attempted to discredit the fact that most trafficking occurs at legal ports of entry at the U.S. border by creating a chilling portrait of a kidnapping incident. He said human trafficking occurs elsewhere, because border guards would notice hostages.

“You can't have them tied up in the backseat of a car,” Trump said, referring to women and girls brought through legal ports of entry. “They can't see three women with tape on their mouths or three women whose hands are tied."

Trump said visa lottery favors bad people

Trump reiterated a fictitious claim about immigration visa programs in the United States by saying that countries select citizens they don’t want.

"I'm not going to put in my stars; I'm going to put in people I don't want,” Trump said in reference to countries that participate in the visa program.

Trump said Shinzo Abe nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize

Trump made a bizarre claim that North Korea had “rocket ships” “flying over Japan” and suggested that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for the way he's handled relations with North Korea.

Reporters were quick to point out that it appeared Trump had confused Japan with South Korea, as South Korean President Moon Jae-In said in April of last year that Trump should win the prize — although he didn’t nominate him.

Cover image: President Donald Trump points to a member of the media while taking questions after speaking during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)