'Take the Land'
President Trump is so intent on finishing 500 miles of border wall before the 2020 election, "he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars' worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land, and disregard environmental rules," The Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials involved with the wall endeavor. "He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly."
Only 60 miles of replacement fencing have been built so far, and "Trump has held regular White House meetings for progress updates and to hasten the pace," saying his supporters and rally-goers demand the wall, and waving aside concerns about contracting procedures and eminent domain abuse, the Post reports. He says "take the land," meeting attendees recounted. "Don't worry, I'll pardon you." A White House official told the Post that Trump is joking when he makes such statements about pardons.
"Border Patrol insists on compressed acquisition timelines, and we consent," a concerned senior official tells the Post. "They don't care how much money is spent, whether landowners' rights are violated, whether the environment is damaged, the law, the regs, or even prudent business practices." Other officials defended Trump's push to seize land for his wall. "There is no more constitutionally permissible public purpose for eminent domain than national defense," one administration official said, citing Trump's rationale for using unappropriated funds for the wall. "Our intention is to negotiate with every property owner, and every property owner will receive fair market value for the land," but "this is not like building a hospital or even a school. There is no alternative land to the border."