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Trump vows to build border wall, warns Democrats against investigations


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President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address, with Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, at the Capitol in Washington, DC on 5 February – Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters): President Donald Trump vowed in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to build a border wall, which is a source of a deep partisan divide, and said Democratic attempts at “ridiculous partisan investigations” could damage US prosperity.

Trump spoke to a joint session of the US Congress facing political discord over his demands that Democrats end their opposition to funding for a US-Mexico border wall he says is needed to stem illegal immigration and smuggled drugs.

During his 82-minute speech, he outlined his political priorities without providing specific policy details.

Trump called illegal immigration “an urgent national crisis,” but stopped short of declaring a border emergency that would allow him to bypass Congress for wall funding. Instead, he urged Democrats and Republicans to find a compromise by a 15 February deadline.

“In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built,” Trump said in the House of Representatives chamber, with his main Democratic adversary, new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, watching over his shoulder.

Democrats call the wall a waste of money and ineffective.

During the speech, Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal tweeted her opposition to the wall, saying: “The border is more secure than ever. Enough.”

Trump warned, without offering evidence, that Democratic efforts to investigate his administration, along with the possibility of US involvement in wars abroad, would endanger the US economy.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” he said. His remarks came as Democrats who now control the House planned a series of probes into the Trump administration and his personal finances, while Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller investigates Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Russia denies meddling and Trump has said there was no collusion.Democratic Representative Val Demings called Trump’s remarks shameful and said the investigations would proceed.

“We’re not going to stop,” she said. Apart from lauding economic accomplishments – unemployment near a five-decade low and manufacturing job growth among them – Trump’s speech was light on new initiatives to further stoke growth in an economy seen as losing momentum as it began  2019. Financial markets were largely subdued as Trump delivered his speech. “It was pablum, without specifics,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

Trump’s speech unfolded largely in a civil fashion with Cabinet members, military commanders and several Supreme Court justices in attendance at the annual presidential address to Congress. Many Democratic women lawmakers wore white to celebrate 100 years of women having gained the right to vote. Republicans cheered on the president, while Democrats grimaced or shook their heads but held their fire and applauded at non-partisan moments, such as when two Holocaust survivors were recognised.

 


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