President Trump attempted to march his most potent weapon – himself – to ward off what eventually became an embarrassing rejection from his own party over his declared national emergency at the border.
In many conversations with Republican senators in recent days, the President spoke of the battle almost exclusively in personal terms – telling them they would vote against him while brushing away constitutional concerns over his attempt to redirect billions of federal dollars for a border wall . He argued that a voice against the crisis would be seen by GOP supporters as being against border security and the wall and would harm their own political fortunes, according to a person with direct knowledge of some of the talks.
The president, along with his assistants, continued to hammer the message leading up to Thursday's Senate theme on the issue. Trump tweeted the day before the Republican senator "over-dubbed" it and stressed that it was just about supporting border security. And the White House assistants made it clear to undefined Republicans that Trump noticed those who chose to oppose him – especially if they were up for re-election by 2020.
But that was not enough when a dozen Republicans joined the Democrats in dealing with Trump a humiliating blow by voting on Thursday to lift the national emergency and establish what is the first veto of his presidency.
Trump's personal bases and pressures were among a number of missed opportunities and maladministrations from the White House which contributed to a defeat especially worse than the administration had hoped for in trying to limit errors, according to officials and lawmakers familiar with the efforts, many of whom requested anonymity to discuss private deliberations.
For example, the administration failed to oppose GOP senators' legal opinions, project details, and other information they had requested for the national emergency, according to legislators and Capitol Hill aide s. Vice President Pence was also unable to make commitments on behalf of the President , even when he served as Trump's chief missionary to negotiate with Republicans. People who know the debate said.
And for some of the dissidents, it was not clear if anyone – including Trump – could have persuaded them to support the Emergency Declaration because of their constitutional problems.
"If the White House does not rely on the emergency declaration to spend money specifically dedicated to other purposes, the President would have received $ 5.7 billion," said Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), One of Republicans who voted to reject Trump's emergency statement. "And every Republican Senator I think would have enthusiastically supported it."
The deep concern that some GOP senators who held about potential abuse of power separation have been clear to the White House for weeks. In fact, some white houses and congressional leaders questioned whether the attempt to betray them was even worth it.
"This was the inevitable result, and it is unclear why any effort or political capital was spent trying to avoid it," said Brendan Buck, a former top helper to former speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) . "There are no votes to override, so why bother to negotiate?"
During a private GOP lunch at the end of February, which Pence attended, Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) Then asked to see a memorandum presented by the Justice Department of Legal Counsel Office explaining the administration's justification for why the emergency statement was legal, according to an official with knowledge of the closed door discussion.
Cruz had raised a hypothetical question that involved a democratic senator from Massachusetts who was at the heart of some of their worries: What if a President Elizabeth Warren declared a national emergency to seize Texas oil wells?
An official of the Justice Department attended his meeting, said the White House had drafted a legal memo that the OLC had approved. When Cruz asked to see that document, Pence said he would forward the request to Trump.
The White House never gave that note, according to an official acquaintance with the discussions.
A similar scenario developed a week later when Republican senators pressed homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for a list of military construction projects that could lose funding this year as a result of Trump's emergency statement. Nielsen told them that the question was to a large extent the Pentagon's view – while officials in the Ministry of Defense simultaneously pushed out to Nielsen's agency for information they needed to make a list of targeted projects.
Nor did Senators get that list of projects, and some Republicans doubted whether they existed.
However, Trump called almost serious leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Latest daily to squeeze him on who opposed his declaration – while White House officials worked to keep the number of Republican defects in single figures, according to two administrative officials.
McConnell hung up and lowered himself to printed senators and focused instead on getting as much information for Republicans as possible.
"He did not come in and said," This is what we should do "Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) Said about McConnell." He listened to everyone as they went through it. "
Trump continued say private individuals to the White House officials and senators that he would be willing to entertain any proposal that would unite most Republicans and hold the vote count on the misconception resolution of only 50 in the Senate, which would have defeated the action.
To this end, the administration began and a handful of influential GOP senators quietly discuss whether they could reach a compromise on the shortcomings of a 1976 law, the National Emergency Act, invoked by Trump to invoke his national emergency.
But in private, Pence was vigilant about what Vita The house would accept revisions to the law, people who knew about the discussions, knew the only commitment he made was to take back the information to Trump.
"None of the proposals came anywhere near," a senior administration official said. "We all wasted our time."
Then. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), One of the senators who had negotiated with Pence for days, admitted that the Vice President had a "difficult job". Alexander voted to reject the statement.
"The president feels very strongly about his authority, and a number of us feel very strongly about the constitution," he says. "So I'm not sure anyone could have done a better job than the vice president did."
Still, the administration lost an even greater defeat by working with some Republicans privately.The executive defense secretary Patrick Shanahan had privately insured Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) – a promise he published during a Thursday morning hearing – that four military projects in Arizona did not
At the same time, assistant lawyer Steven A. Engel put down one-on-one with various Senate Republicans to detail the legal arguments to them directly, according to a GOP senator familiar with the meetings, and the administration insured Lankford said it wouldn't start pulling from $ 3.6 billion for military construction projects oak for at least six months.
Capitol Hill aides were concerned. Trump would throw out on senators who voted no, and McConnell and others in charge have encouraged the president to focus instead on issues that unite the party ahead, two people who were acquainted with the talks said.  "I think [the president] respects people with the principle," Sen says. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who told Trump during a private Oval Office meeting last week about the China policy that he would vote to reject his statement.
Administration efforts with late Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) Proved to be the most fertile.
Shortly after the Washington Post published a divisional statement of opinion by Tillis and announced that he was opposed to Trump's emergency order, the Senator contacted the White House to assess his willingness to change the emergency situation as a growing number of GOP senators have complained.
When engaged in numerous conversations with the Bar Association's lawyers and the White House law firm, Tillis repeatedly asked the administration to commit to something in line – emphasizing that he wanted a reason to vote for the declaration, officials said. Tillis told the White House two days ago that he would support Trump according to a senior official.
"The White House has been very gracious – and I should say very patiently, with my first position working with us and, as late as today, having a president make a statement that he is willing to work with us, said Tillis on the Senate floor before reversing his attitude.
Other in-depth efforts were more dramatic.
Three Republicans – Cruz and Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (SC) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) – showed with little notice at White House late Wednesday interrupted a private dinner with Trump and first lady Melania Trump and tried to sell the president at a final pitch that would give senators an off-ramp from Thursday's vote. The Senators had tried to come all day but were shot by White House assistants , eventually they showed up.
Cruz began to make the case to Trump that the president could reprogram federal dollars against the wall to pay even more money without having to declare a national emergency, people who knew the episode felt. The meeting lasted for more than an hour, and the White Housekeepers, including legislative director Shahira Knight and lawyer Pat Philbin, were summoned, with Philbin telling the senators that the option would not work legally.
Growing frustrated, Trump Cruz said he did not cancel the national emergency and that the senator could vote but he wanted to vote. Trump berated the group to appear in the White House late at night and told them they wasted their time.
"Hell, if I had been to him," Graham said on Thursday morning, "I had said we should go to hell."
Erica Werner contributed to this report.