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Week In Politics: Trump Responds To NZ Attack, Veto Over Border Wall


The attacks in Christchurch have had reverberations across the globe. Joining us to discuss the political reaction here, as well as other political news of the week, is Senior Washington Correspondent Ron Elving. Ron, good morning.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Melissa.

BLOCK: Let's talk about the long, hate-filled document that suspected shooter issued. He - in that document, he mentions President Trump. He also writes about the Second Amendment. He talks about stirring discord, instigating a potential civil war in the U.S. over gun control. What has President Trump said in response?

ELVING: Leaders everywhere are condemning the attack as appalling. But President Trump said it was a horrible, horrible act. And if it casts a pall everywhere, there may be a special darkness to it here in the U.S. The alleged shooter, as you say, singled us out. Also, in that screed, the alleged shooter asks himself if he's a Trump supporter. And he answers initially, as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose, sure. Now, then he adds, as a policymaker and leader, dear God, no. But he also uses this word invasion in reference to non-Europeans, the same word the president used and defended yesterday...


ELVING: ...In a news conference about the U.S. Southern border. At that time, the president was asked if he had any concerns about rising white nationalism. And he said this.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps, that's the case. I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person and the people involved. But it's certainly a terrible thing.

ELVING: Now, the White House says linking the president to the suspect in any way is outrageous. Still, it is a reminder that the political dialogue here reverberates beyond our own shores.

BLOCK: Ron, let's turn to Congress now, which issued a couple of rebukes of President Trump this week. The Senate rejected his national emergency declaration at the southwestern border, leading to President Trump's first veto. And we saw a dozen Senate Republicans defying Trump on that issue - more than expected, I believe.

ELVING: That is true, although, perhaps, not as many as it would take to have a veto override. But we'll get to that in a moment. There's disagreement on the first point about a national emergency. The president continues to say both that the wall is already being built and that the need for more wall is a matter of national security that supersedes the Congress and its constitutional power of the purse. So the facts on all that, of course, are very much in dispute. What is not disputed is the enormous importance the president has placed on the wall as a focus of his presidency. That's the political emergency. So now the House will vote on an override in 10 days. But unless there are a lot more Republicans coming on board than there were initially, that override will fail. Then it's up to the federal court system - ultimately, the Supreme Court - which will determine whether Trump is exceeding his authority under the Constitution.

BLOCK: And finally, Ron, this week, we also saw the Senate joining the House in voting to cut off U.S. aid to the Saudi-backed war in Yemen. The House also voted 420-0 on a resolution urging that the Mueller report be made public in full.

ELVING: Yes. The president is expected to veto that Yemen cutoff. So that will be the second veto of his presidency. Here, again, there were more Senate Republicans deserting him than ever before but still not enough for a veto override. That takes two-thirds. More surprising was that third vote this week that you just mentioned. The House voted 420-0 that the Mueller report should be released to the public in full. There was no dissent. That would be an even more personal rebuke for the president, who has, of course, been having trouble adjusting to some of these new realities in Capitol Hill - on Capitol Hill since the elections back in November installed the Democratic majority in the House.

BLOCK: OK. That's Senior Washington Correspondent Ron Elving. Ron, thanks as always.

ELVING: Thank you, Melissa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.