Trump falsely claims he never said Mexico would directly pay for the border wall
Donald Trump has apparently made "the wall" his personal Alamo. At virtually every stop during his presidential campaign, he promised his red-hat base that he would build a 2,000 mile border wall between the United States and Mexico, and that Mexico would pay for it. But as they say in Game of Thrones, a TV show where a giant wall does not work, "words are wind."
Despite Republicans controlling Congress for two years, the master dealmaker-in-chief failed to pass legislation building this long ballyhooed barrier. As a result, Trump proudly took responsibility for causing a partial government shutdown that is hurting the lives of 800,000 federal workers. This week those Americans will miss their first paycheck. National parks are overflowing with trash. TSA workers are choosing to call in sick rather than work unpaid. Zoos and museums are closing their doors. Food stamps are guaranteed through February, but there are no promises for March.
President Trump refuses to sign any spending bill that does not include funding for a border wall. The shutdown has lasted 20 days, and on Saturday it will become the longest one in American history. Democratic leaders say they want to fund border security, but consider the wall a no-go because it is expensive and ineffective. (Many immigrants enter the US by overextending their visas. Also, there are newfangled contraptions like "ladders" and "tunnels.")
In an attempt to persuade skeptical taxpayers to spend $5.7 billion on a wall - a wall that is estimated to cost $21.6 billion to $70 billion in total - the president is pulling out all the stops. In an Oval Office address that rudely interrupted Ellen's Game of Games, Trump claimed there is a "crisis" at the border, and the only prescription is more wall, baby. Fact-checkers pointed out that Trump's eight minute speech had several misleading claims, and even more misleading sniffling. However, the president might have dropped his most outrageously false claim today.
On Thursday, Trump spoke to reporters about the wall, before flying to Texas to check out the US-Mexico border. He stated, "During the campaign, I would say Mexico is going to pay for it, obviously I never said this. I never meant they're going to write out a check." He added, "I said they're going to pay for it. They are... But they are paying for the wall indirectly many, many times over by the really great trade deal we just made."
The live-action Boss Baby is referring to the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement, or United States-Mexico-Canada agreement which has not been approved by Congress yet. According to Politifact, Trump's claim that Mexico will pay for the wall through this agreement is false. Economic and trade experts say it's not possible because there's no provision in the free trade agreement about Mexico directly paying for the wall.
Also, Americans without goldfish memories know that Trump promised Mexico would directly pay for the wall several times in the past - "at least 212 times during his campaign and dozens more since he took office," according to the Washington Post.
For example, a 2015 campaign position paper stated: "Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do," the United States would "impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages." And a 2016 Trump campaign memo stated, "It’s an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion [in remittances] continues to flow into their country year after year... We have the leverage, so Mexico will back down."
Two weeks before his inauguration, Trump began changing his story. He admitted taxpayers might have to initially pay for the "Great Wall (for sake of speed)" but promised it "will be paid back by Mexico later!" Then, in August 2017 he told reporters, "it may be through reimbursement, but one way or another, Mexico will pay for the wall." (Meanwhile, Mexico's answer changed over time as well, from "no" to "hell no" to "F*** NO, DONNY!")
As they say in Game of Thrones, a TV show where a giant wall does not work, "Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not."