Trump again threatens to declare state of emergency, says he can 'relate' to furloughed federal workers

Speaking to reporters ahead of a Sunday morning trip to Camp David to discuss border security, President Trump reaffirmed that "I may declare a national emergency dependent on what's going to happen over the next few days" to construct a border wall, and declared that Republicans and Democrats are "going to have some very serious talks" beginning on Monday.

Trump, who publicly said for the first time on Sunday that he will deliver a State of the Union address on Jan. 29, also insisted he can "relate" to the hundreds of thousands of workers who have been furloughed amid the ongoing partial federal government shudown -- and he made clear he thinks he has their support.

"I can relate," Trump told NBC News correspondent Kelly O'Donnell. "And I’m sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments. They always do. And they’ll make adjustments. People understand exactly what’s going on. Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing."

“There is not gonna be any bend right here," Trump added.

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Responding to reports that some federal workers are increasingly calling out sick, including hundreds of Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) workers responsible for screening airport passengers, Trump denied that the issue was widespread but acknowledged that some employees "have to do what they have to do."

Vice President Pence is scheduled to remain in Washington to meet with congressional officials to discuss a possible shutdown deal, the president said -- although he made clear he doesn't have much confidence in a weekend breakthrough.

"I don't expect to have anything to happen at that meeting," Trump said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly got into a tense confrontation during a White House meeting on Wednesday, with the California Democrat interrupting Nielsen’s presentation on border security and illegal immigration, telling her “I reject your facts.”

PELOSI REPORTEDLY INTERRUPTS DHS SECRETARY: 'I REJECT YOUR FACTS'

The president on Sunday also said he was "totally involved" in shutdown negotiations and claimed to have "tremendous support within the Republican Party" as the ongoing partial federal government shutdown continues for its 16th day. The longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history lasted 21 days, and Trump has repeatedly said the current one may last more than a year if Democrats are not willing to fund some of the wall.

"You’d be in a nice big fat war in Asia with North Korea if I wasn't elected president."

— President Trump

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders doubled down on Trump's comments during an impromptu Rose Garden press conference on Friday, when he told reporters, “We can call a national emergency [to build a border wall] because of the security of our country. ... “I may do it. I may do it. ... If we can do it through a negotiated process, we’re giving it a shot.”

"The president’s prepared to do what it takes to protect our borders, to protect the people of this country," Sanders told host Chris Wallace. "He knows that the No. 1 job he has as president and commander-in-chief is to protect its citizens."

But Democrats, including Democratic Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, have said Trump doesn't have that power.

FILE -- In this April 4, 2018 file photo, a U.S. soldier stands in a newly installed position near the front line between the U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria. The planned U.S. troop withdrawal opens a void in the north and east of Syria, and the conflicts and rivalries among all the powers in the Middle East are converging to fill it. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

FILE -- In this April 4, 2018 file photo, a U.S. soldier stands in a newly installed position near the front line between the U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria. The planned U.S. troop withdrawal opens a void in the north and east of Syria, and the conflicts and rivalries among all the powers in the Middle East are converging to fill it. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Separately on Sunday, Trump talked foreign policy, shortly after he announced that Jamal al-Badawi, the Al Qaeda operative tied to the deadly 2000 attack on USS Cole, was killed during a U.S. airstrike in Yemen.

The president said he had been in "indirect" contact with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un since the two met face-to-face last summer. U.S. officials are reportedly scouting possible sites for a second such meeting to discuss the denuclearization of the Korena Peninsula.

"You’d be in a nice big fat war in Asia with North Korea if I wasn't elected president," Trump said.

He also recommitted a full troop pullout in Syria while also tempering expectations for a quick withdrawal, telling reporters, "We are going to be removing our troops. I never said we'd do it that quickly, but we're decimating ISIS."

Top Republicans, including South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, had sharply criticized Trump's initial plan for a faster pullout from Syria, saying it would endanger U.S.-allied Kurds in the area, help Russia, and destabilize U.S. interests. In response, the White House has argued that America must protect its troops, and noted that it retains the capacity to strike in Syria from bases in Iraq.

Meanwhile, in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told host Chuck Todd that Trump "was willing to agree, and he mentioned this at the Rose Garden press conference, to take a concrete wall off the table" in order to secure a deal to end the ongoing shutdown.

Mulvaney had met with senior congressional officials on Saturday to try to make progress on a compromise, although he suggested the encounter had been mostly unproductive.