Trump ends shutdown talks, raising odds he'll declare emergency

The US government has been in shutdown for a record-equalling 21 days

Mr Trump said on Thursday that, instead of a direct payment, Mexico would be "paying for the wall indirectly, many, many times over", under a new trade deal between the US, Mexico and Canada.

But some in the White House are trying to apply the brakes.

But most lawmakers left town on Friday and will not return before Monday, leaving little chance for any solution to the stalemate before then.

The White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to comb through its budget in search of money for the wall, including looking at $13.9 billion in unspent disaster relief funds earmarked for areas including hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico, Texas and more than a dozen other states.

On Friday, government workers missed their first payday of this shutdown.

The partial shutdown would set a record early Saturday, stretching beyond the 21-day closure that ended Jan 6, 1996, during President Bill Clinton's administration.

On Friday, however, Trump backed off a series of previous threats to end the deadlock by declaring a national emergency and attempting to secure the funds without congressional approval. The White House also was eyeing military construction funds, another politically hard choice because the money would be diverted from a backlog of hundreds of projects at bases around the nation.

But Republicans who control the Senate have so far stood with Trump and insisted that any spending bills include money for his wall.

"If they can't do it".

"We're either going to have a win - make a compromise - because I think a compromise is a win for everybody - or I will declare a national emergency", he said Thursday.

"I hope it works", he said in a statement.

Until now, Trump had suggested numerous times that he was getting closer to taking the controversial decision. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC, who met with the president on Friday, took to Twitter afterward to urge: "Mr. President, Declare a national emergency NOW". But Trump said Friday that he wasn't rushing to use that option, which would be challenged in court and, if not overturned, establish a precedent expanding the power of future Democratic presidents.

Independents fix the blame squarely on the President and his party rather than on the Democrats, by 53 per cent to 23 per cent.

Trump, referring to a reporter from the "Amazon Washington Post", hit back at the notion that he has no plan for the ongoing shutdown. "I do have a plan on the Shutdown".

"Schumer and Pelosi's position may seem appealing in light of Trump's freakish plan to build a costly and unnecessary wall, but in reality - increasing border surveillance is a nefarious move that widely threatens the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution", wrote the group.

Senior aide Jared Kushner, who travelled with the president to Texas, is among those urging caution on the declaration, according to a person familiar with Kushner's thinking but not authorized to publicly discuss the issue. Eighteen per cent say they have been inconvenienced, including 7 per cent who say it has been a major problem.

Some studies show that illegal immigrants generally commit fewer crimes than people born in the United States, although not everyone agrees on this.

And most narcotics are smuggled through heavily guarded checkpoints in vehicles, the government's Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2017 report.

Experts have said that the wall, an idea conceived of by Trump's campaign aides to help him keep in mind to vilify immigrants in campaign speeches to his mostly white supporters, will achieve little in terms of security.

"We can't always predict every circumstance which the executive will need these powers, but it's also not supposed to be used just because you can't reach a deal with Congress", Boyle said.