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Politics & Government

Trump Expected To Order Mexican Border Wall

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Here's a quote. "Big day planned on national security tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall," end quote. That is a tweet from President Trump last night. He has been tweeting again this morning about investigating what he says was voter fraud that cost him the popular vote in November. And let's bring in NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith here.

Good morning, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: So let's start with the tweet this morning. I mean, Trump has claimed before - he claimed it again to lawmakers this week saying 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, at least that's what he thinks. No evidence has been offered to that. What is he saying in this latest tweet now?

KEITH: Well, he may be looking for evidence, evidence which seems not to exist. But here's the tweet. He says, I will be asking for a major investigation into - all caps - VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even those register to vote who are dead - and many for a long time. Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures. We should point out that there is a difference between voter fraud and outdated voter rolls. Those simply are not the same thing.

GREENE: Oh, so people - saying voter - people who voted who are dead, that would not be considered voter fraud. That's a separate - that's a different issue.

KEITH: Well, I mean, I guess if they voted, it would be fraud (laughter). But just being dead and on the voter rolls is not voter fraud.

GREENE: OK.

KEITH: The secretary of state in Ohio - he's a Republican - retweeted and added commentary to Donald Trump's tweet already this morning. He says we conducted a review four years ago in Ohio and already have a statewide review of 2016 underway - easy to vote, hard to cheat.

Essentially, Trump and his team have not been able to offer any evidence of this. And there's quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. Yesterday, our own Mara Liasson asked at the White House press briefing - you know, if the president really believes this thing, then why isn't he doing anything about it? I just want to play a clip of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: If 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, that is a scandal of astronomical proportions. Doesn't he want to restore Americans' faith in their ballot system? Wouldn't he want an investigation of this?

SEAN SPICER: Well, I - you know, this is - but Mara, as I noted several times now, he's believed this for a long time.

LIASSON: I'm not questioning that belief at all.

SPICER: And I think he won fairly overwhelmingly...

LIASSON: I believe that.

SPICER: ...So he's not - and look, we'll work...

LIASSON: I'm asking you - why not investigate something that is a...

SPICER: Well, maybe we will.

LIASSON: The biggest...

KEITH: And so, of course...

GREENE: That was in the briefing room with Sean Spicer, the press secretary, right?

KEITH: Yes. And that clip has been making the rounds on television. And around the time of some of those pieces, Donald Trump then tweeted, well, we are going to investigate.

GREENE: So these are a lot of pieces about Mara's question about whether there should be an investigation. Now we see this tweet this morning. So I guess we'll see...

KEITH: Exactly.

GREENE: ...If it becomes more than a tweet. Well (laughter), let's get back to that other tweet. It's funny - I can't believe we're talking so much about tweets in...

KEITH: Reporting live on tweets.

GREENE: ...Covering the White House. That's right. Donald Trump tweeted about national security, said he was going to begin building that wall. What do you think he has in mind here?

KEITH: He is going to the Department of Homeland Security today and is expected to hold an event there where he will sign executive orders, executive actions. Multiple news outlets are reporting that he will sign something to begin construction of that wall on the border with Mexico that he promised during the campaign, also possibly stuff about border agents or sanctuary cities. But we haven't independently been able to confirm exactly what he plans to sign.

GREENE: Can he simply order up a wall with an executive action?

KEITH: Well, there's already a law that exists that says build a big fence. So what he could do is say, follow that law. The harder part is paying for it and overcoming legal barriers with property owners who don't want a wall running through their property.

GREENE: OK. Speaking this morning with NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

Thanks, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.