MSNBC's Mika tries to pin down GOP senator on emergency declaration: 'I feel like we're speaking a different language'
Mika Brzezinski and Sen. James Lankford (MSNBC)

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski tried to pin down a Republican senator on whether he agreed with the White House that the border situation amounted to an emergency -- but he refused to say so.


Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) told the "Morning Joe" co-host he was still waiting for the White House to finish making its case for President Donald Trump's emergency declaration, which appears headed for defeat in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate.

"I'm still waiting for the documentation, actually, from the White House," Lankford said. "The White House is supposed to give us the information on the military side of what they are asking for, and we've yet to receive that yet. We got to look at the documentation on the legal aspects and where they take those fund from."

Brzezinski pressed him to say whether the border situation was, in fact, an emergency, but Lankford tap-danced around the question.

"There is a serious problem there, and whether you call it an emergency or a crisis or as President Obama called it a humanitarian crisis, there's a problem," Lankford said, "and it's families and it's individuals that are rushing at the border in very, very high numbers. So we got to be able to find a way to manage this."

Brzezinski asked if he was concerned a future Democratic president could declare an emergency over something that's arguably just a problem, as Lankford suggested the border presented, and the senator continued talking around the question.

"If you're trying to stretch the statutory authority for what the request is, then that's always an issue," he said. "Whether you call this an emergency, a crisis, a problem, whatever it is, the word that you actually use."

Lankford argued that more migrants were crossing the border as family units in recent months, and he said so-called "coyotes" were offering discounts to bring children across the border.

"They have adoptions now when they can pick up a child from that area and say, I'll take your child to America to actually go get educated because it's cheaper if we can split the cost of transiting," Lankford said. "We're talking real human trafficking of children that's unrelated to these adults, many are related to adults -- they may be uncles or cousins, but many are unrelated that are moving because it's cheaper. We have to address that humanitarian crisis, this is growing."

Brzezinski finally gave up in frustration, saying that Lankford had not offered a case to fund a border wall through an emergency declaration, as the president has ordered.

"I just don't know what a wall does for anything you just said," Brzezinski said. "I'll look forward to hearing how you vote on this. I feel like we're speaking a different language. I mean we're talking about a wall, and you're talking about things that have nothing to do with the wall."