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President Trump speaks in El Paso, N.M. on Monday. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

President Trump liked the idea of declaring a national emergency because it's the maximalist, most dramatic option.

Between the lines: Trump never gravitates towards complexity. And the reprogramming of funds to allow more wall spending, without declaring an emergency, would have been complicated to explain to voters.

  • The president is expected to declare a national emergency today when he appears in the Rose Garden at 10 a.m. for remarks on "the national security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border."

Examples of Trump's maximalist impulse include:

  • Building a "Great Wall" vs. the mix of security solutions recommended by border experts.
  • Repeated threats to kill all of NAFTA.
  • Calls for full, rather than gradual, withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan.

Months in the making: Last summer, Trump told Mick Mulvaney — then White House budget director, now chief of staff — to find him money to pay for the wall without going to Congress.

  • The Office of Management and Budget has been sifting through obscure piles of money ever since, and was well-prepared for the emergency declaration.

The reason some staff pushed back against the emergency was that they knew it would result in immediate court action (it obviously still will), and because they knew the backlash it would spur on Capitol Hill.

  • Conservative lawyers close to the White House worried about the precedent it would set.

Be smart: Trump makes big decisions substantially through the lens of: "What can I sell to my people?"

  • Trump consistently thinks in terms of public relations: When people ask him what he achieved during the shutdown, he says he got the nation to focus on the border — and the media to talk about nothing but the border for a month.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

1 hour ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.