An eye-opening report by The Post’s Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey casts a spotlight on the lengths to which Mr. Trump is willing to go to deliver on his signature 2016 campaign promise, which — despite his constant assertions to the contrary — is still almost exclusively on the drawing board. Specifically, the president, who sees his deadline in explicitly political terms — he promises that 500 miles of fencing will be built by Election Day next year — scoffs at environmental rules, contracting and procurement procedures, and property rights.
What are the niceties of established law, federal regulations or eminent domain compared with Mr. Trump’s wish to satisfy his partisans’ chants of “Finish the wall!”?
In rushing the project forward, of course, there are potential pitfalls, among them the risk that officials in his administration may be legally liable. To this, Mr. Trump has breezily suggested he would grant presidential pardons to those who run afoul of the law — a suggestion subsequently dismissed by a White House official, who assured The Post it was a joke. Hilarious.
Whatever his intentions in that regard, word is out in the administration that Mr. Trump has approved a carte blanche for cutting corners on contracts and playing fast and loose with environmental impact assessments. As The Post quoted a senior official: “They don’t care how much money is spent, whether landowners’ rights are violated, whether the environment is damaged, the regs or even prudent business practices.”
Never mind that Mr. Trump privately admits a wall isn’t the most effective way to halt illegal immigration. Sustaining the cheers at his rallies is the end that justifies his means. Never mind, either, that the prospect of humanitarian disaster is no impediment to Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda: Even with Hurricane Dorian bearing down this week on the Florida and Georgia coasts, it was revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had plundered more than $150 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund. That money was shifted to a program designed to detain and return Central American migrants to Mexico while they await adjudication of their asylum claims in the United States.
The president is making progress in his crusade to steamroll federal agencies into doing his bidding, notwithstanding rules and regulations. The costs of such an approach are likely to become clear only later — though perhaps in time for voters to assess them at the ballot box in 2020.