United States president Donald Trump urged the Mexican president to stop publicly saying he would not pay for a proposed border wall, according to transcripts. Mr. Trump admonished Enrique Peña Nieto for publicly denouncing the wall during a 27 January phone call, transcripts obtained by the Washington Post show.
You cannot say that to the press, he reportedly told him. Transcripts of his first call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were also published.
In a rancorous call, President Trump tells him it was the worst conversation he had that day, and one with Russian President Vladimir Putin was more pleasant.
Mr. Trump launched his presidential campaign on a promise to build a wall along the US southern border and vowed to make Mexico pay for the project. But the transcripts show the US president acknowledged the funding would come from other sources, saying the money will work out in the formula somehow.
He added: If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.
“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said repeatedly, according to a transcript of the Jan. 27 call obtained by The Washington Post. Trump made clear that he realized the funding would have to come from other sources but threatened to cut off contact if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto continued to make defiant statements.
The funding “will work out in the formula somehow,” Trump said, adding later that “it will come out in the wash, and that is okay.” But “if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”
He described the wall as “the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.”
As the call went on, Trump cited a more pleasant call that he’d had earlier in the day: “Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump said, referring to Russian President Vladi¬mir Putin. “This is ridiculous.”
The House of Representatives approved US$1.6 billion towards the border wall last week, and the federal government has been viewing proposals submitted by construction contractors.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the highest ranked congressional Republican, also released a video this week of his visit to the southern border, saying it's time for The Wall.
To read the full text of the Nieto call, click here.