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Thanksgiving message: Trump calls troops, threatens to close border

By Ray Downs and Allen Cone
President Donald Trump visited Coast Guard members in Lake Worth Inlet, Fla., for Thanksgiving Day. Photo courtesy <a class="tpstyle" href="https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDHSCG/bulletins/21d5660">U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District Southeast</a>
President Donald Trump visited Coast Guard members in Lake Worth Inlet, Fla., for Thanksgiving Day. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District Southeast

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump, after a teleconference call Thursday with members of the U.S. armed forces on Thanksgiving, threatened to "close entry into the country" from Mexico.

Trump spoke to individual members of different military branches for nearly 30 minutes before taking questions from reporters for nearly as long.

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"If we find that it gets to a level where we're going to lose control or people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control," he said. "You take a look at Tijuana, Mexico and you see what's happening there? It's a bad situation."

He said "we have a good trade deal with Mexico and with Canada. But we will close the border, and that means Mexico's not going to be able to sell their cars into the United States until it's open."

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Earlier this week, traffic lanes near a key port of entry in San Diego were temporarily shut down.

"Two days ago, we closed the border. We actually just closed it," Trump said. "We said, 'Nobody's coming in.' Because it's out of control."

Pentagon earlier this month deployed roughly 5,800 troops to the border at the request of Trump because he claomed group of Central American asylum seekers traveling through Mexico presented a national security threat.

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He said he has authoried the military to use lethal force is "if they have to."

"You're dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals, so I'm not going to let the military be taken of advantage of," Trump said. "I have no choice. Do I want that to happen? Absolutely not. You're dealing with rough people."

He spoke to reporters and conducted the conference call at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.

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"I say to our great, great warriors hello and Happy Thanksgiving," Trump said. "We're celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States, as you know, and you're celebrating it wherever you are in all parts of the world.

"Melania and I want to express our profound gratitude for the extraordinary sacrifices you make to defend our nation while you're away from your families and loved ones," Trump said.

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Trump was asked if he plans on going to visit troops in Afghanistan.

"We'll be doing some interesting things," Trump said. "At the appropriate time, we'll be doing some interesting things."

Trump also continued his criticism of the 9th circuit court, calling it a "shame" and a "disgrace." The circuit's court of appeals has blocked several of his border and immigration orders.

"Essentially, they're legislating. They're saying what to do," Trump said. "Some judge sitting in some location very far away is telling our incredible military and law enforcement what to do and it's not right and it's been going on like that for a long time."

The 9th Circuit has jurisdicton over U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar of San Francisco, who on Monday halted the administration's attempts to bar migrants who enter the country illegally from applying for asylum until Dec. 19. Then is scheduled to hear arguments about whether it should remain permanent.

Trump also reiterated his support for the Saudi Arabia regime, despite accusations that it is directly responsible for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, because the Saudi government buys billions of dollars worth of defense from the United States.

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"Remember, they don't have to buy from us," Trump said. "They can buy from Russia and they can buy from China. They make very good equipment. They don't make as good equipment as we make. Nobody does. Nobody's even close. But they make very good equipment. So they can spend their money in Russia and China and other places and that is not acceptable."

Trump later defended his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is accused of using private email for government-related purposes during the transition period before Trump took office in January 2017.

Trump said Ivanka Trump's use of email was "innocent" and added that it was unlike Hillary Clinton's private email scandal, which involved a private server being set up in Clinton's home and the deletion of thousands of emails.

After the teleconference call with the armed forces and question-and-answer session with reporters, Trump visited members of the U.S. Coast Guard nearby for about 30 minutes in Lake Worth, WPBF-TV reported.

Then, Trump went to Trump International golf course in West Palm Beach before dinner with his family at Mar-a-Lago.

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