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Photo: Carlos Barria, Pool/Getty Images

A source close to President Trump tells me that he thinks a declaration of a national emergency at the border — which Trump stopped short of last night — remains the most likely ultimate option, because of the latitude it gives the president.

Yes, but: Conservatives, including sources in the conservative legal orbit surrounding Trump, don’t like what they view as an abuse of this authority.

Meanwhile, the White House Office of Management and Budget has been exploring other creative ways to get Trump his wall money without having to go through Congress, according to a source close to Russ Vought, a top OMB official.

  • OMB, at Trump's behest, is exploring whether he can tap Pentagon resources to fund the wall without going to Congress, the source said.
  • The Pentagon option is one of a couple of possibilities being seriously contemplated, per the source.
  • Any such move, of course, would face political headwinds, given that even the most obscure pots of federal money have members of Congress jealously guarding them.

Privately, President Trump "dismissed his own new strategy as pointless," the NY Times' Peter Baker reports and I've confirmed:

  • "In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors hours before the address, he made clear in blunt terms that he was not inclined to give the speech or go to Texas [for a border visit tomorrow], but was talked into it by advisers."

"It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it," Trump said.

  • "The trip was merely a photo opportunity, he said. 'But,' he added, gesturing at his communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, 'these people behind you say it’s worth it.'"

P.S. The NY Times' Maggie Haberman, post-gaming on CNN: "It's just not a natural setting for him, and we didn't hear a whole lot new."

  • "We certainly heard a whole lot — although less than usual — things that were not true. They are still talking past each other, these two sides."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.