President Donald Trump spoke briefly with reporters at the White House on Thursday before departing for a trip to McAllen, Texas — but not before offering a major backtrack on one of his most prominent campaign promises.
The president doubled-down on his false claim that Mexico would somehow be funding the wall through a new trade deal before attempting to change the history of one of the most common refrains at his trademark campaign rallies.
“I know the fake news likes to say it,” Trump said over the whirling noise of Marine One on the White House’s South Lawn. “When during the campaign, I would say Mexico is going to pay for it, obviously I never said this and I never meant they’re going to write out a check.”
Watch the video below:
Trump again claims, without evidence, that Mexico is "paying for the wall indirectly."
"When I said Mexico will pay for the wall in front of thousands of thousands of people, obviously they're not going to write a check." Via ABC pic.twitter.com/2ahlUaTHOJ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 10, 2019
After arguing that he never claimed that Mexico would pay directly, Trump again reiterated the false claim that Mexico would pay for the wall through United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Despite this being a common talking point for Trump in recent weeks, it has been thoroughly debunked. The Washington Post fact checker gave the claim four Pinocchios and noted that it is well on its way to earning the “Bottomless Pinocchio” distinction set aside for Trump’s most oft-repeated falsehoods.
And as for Trump’s claim that he never said Mexico would cut a check for the wall, he certainly claimed that some financing would be compelled directly from Mexico. A two-page memo from the Trump campaign, given to the Washington Post in March of 2016, outlined Trump’s lofty plan to secure funding from Mexico.
“It’s an easy decision for Mexico,” the memo reads. “Make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year.”
The memo went on to outline punitive measures that could be taken against the Mexican government and undocumented aliens in the United States if Mexico did not agree to pay for the wall.
Mexico has shown no intention of paying for Trump’s wall and the government remains in a partial shutdown due to the administration’s demand that Congress appropriate funding for construction.