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MUNICH — Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday defended his decision to divert billions of dollars in funding for Navy and Air Force aircraft and other military programs to help pay for President Trump’s promised wall on the US-Mexico border.

Esper was asked by a reporter about criticism from Democrats and Republicans in Congress, including Representative Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas, who called the diversion of funds contrary to the constitutional authority of Congress.

“Border security is national security,” Esper said, “and national security is our mission.”

He added, “The action we took is legal under the law, and so it should be no surprise, and I’ll just leave it at that for now.”

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The Pentagon said Thursday that Esper approved shifting $3.8 billion in funds that Congress had authorized for F-35 fighter aircraft and other military programs. The money is being diverted to help the Department of Homeland Security build portions of the border wall.