President Donald Trump urged Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to stop publicly criticizing the border wall in a January 27 phone call, according to transcripts obtained and published by The Washington Post on Thursday, August 3.
“What I would like to recommend is — if we are going to have continued dialogue — we will work out the wall. They are going to say, ‘Who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?’ to both of us, and we should both say, ‘We will work it out,'” Trump, 71, said to Nieto, 51, just one week after taking office.
“Because you and I are both at a point now where we are both saying we are not to pay for the wall. From a political standpoint, that is what we will say,” the real estate mogul continued. “We cannot say that anymore because 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.”
Trump described the border wall, which the Department of Homeland Security estimated would cost $21.6 billion, as “the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.”
The Washington Post reported that the previously unreleased documents were prepared by members of the White House staff. The newspaper also published a transcript of Trump’s January 28 call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
While trying to come to an agreement on refugees with Turnbull, 62, the former Celebrity Apprentice host became angry. “I have had it. I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day,” he said, according to the transcripts, before noting that his earlier conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin “was a pleasant call.”
A White House official familiar with both calls addressed the leak in a statement to The Washington Post. “The president is a tough negotiator who is always looking to make the best possible deals for the American people,” the unnamed official said. “The United States has many vital interests at stake with Mexico, including stopping the flow of illegal immigration, ending drug cartels’ reach into our communities, increasing border security, renegotiating NAFTA and reducing a massive trade deficit. In every conversation the president has with foreign leaders, he is direct and forceful in his determination to put America and Americans first.”
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