Jan 18, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Trump contradicts Kelly on border wall: "it has never changed"

John Kelly looks on while President Trump speaks

Photo: Andrew Harrer, Pool / Getty Images

President Trump reverted to some vintage rhetoric about his long-promised border wall in a series of morning tweets: "The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it."

Why it matters: He's likely responding to the front page of the New York Times, which features a report that Chief of Staff John Kelly privately told a group of members of Congress that Trump had "evolved" on the wall...

Trump's full tweetstorm:

"The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water. The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!"

NYT: "President Trump’s chief of staff privately told a group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had not been 'fully informed' when promising voters a wall along the Mexican border last year."

  • "The comments were an unusual instance of a White House chief of staff seeming to undercut public statements made by the president."
  • "John F. Kelly, the retired Marine general credited with bringing a measure of discipline to Mr. Trump’s chaotic White House during his six months as chief of staff, told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he had educated the president about the issue of immigration, adding that Mr. Trump had 'evolved' on the wall."
  • Kelly said "he had persuaded the president it was not necessary. He also expressed optimism that a bipartisan immigration deal could eventually be reached."
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