Updated 6:17 a.m. | President Donald Trump on Thursday said he and lawmakers will delay a border security fight until after November’s midterms. He also accused the author of an sharply critical anonymous op-ed and newspaper that published it of treason.
Trump told Fox News in an interview taped before a rally in Billings, Montana, set to air Friday morning that he is inclined to shut the government down after Sept. 30 if he doesn’t get his way, but “I don’t want to do anything that will hurt us, or potentially hurt us.”
“So, most likely, I will not do that,” he said, according to a pool report.
Trump said a debate on border security and immigration will take place after the elections, “when hopefully it will be easier because we’ll have more Republicans.”
He did not signal whether he will only eventually accept the $5 billion figure for fiscal 2019 border barrier funds that he has endorsed, or if a lesser amount would suffice. A House funding bill includes that amount, but a Senate version proposes only $1.6 billion.
Trump also addressed the New York Times op-ed from an anonymous senior administration official that said a large cadre of officials across the government are working hard to stifle his most extreme policy whims. It also alleged that early on, senior officials toyed with using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
The president gave no indication his staff has identified the author, but he said he believes it likely is a “low-level” or “deep state” government employee. A number of Cabinet officials have denied penning the scathing piece.
But Trump let the author know how he feels about the piece, saying: "The Times never should have done that," adding all involved are guilty of "virtually, you know, it’s treason.”
But Trump appears unfamiliar with the treason provision of the U.S. Code, which does not mention criticizing the president as a crime.
“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason,” it states.
Trump tried to pour cold water on the controversy - the latest of his presidency.
"The White House is truly, as you would say, a well oiled machine," he told a Fox interviewer," saying it will be hard to identify the author because he or she is "one person out of thousands" within the federal government, meaning "you can’t discredit" the writer.