Feb 13, 2019

Inside "The Beast" before Trump's El Paso rally

President Trump and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller in Trump's limo, "The Beast." Photo via Mark Loeffler, Miller's communications director

In El Paso on Monday night, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) rode with President Trump in "The Beast," the president's heavily armored Cadillac.

What happened: Miller says Trump was "upset" that the city's Republican Mayor Dee Margo publicly contradicted him on the success of El Paso's border wall. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick were also on the ride from Air Force One to the rally.

According to Miller, this exchange occurred:

  • Miller said he told Trump to shake it off, because "they [the city of El Paso] pad the books," suggesting that the city underreports crime rates. (Miller said he learned this while serving as the former chairman of the Texas House committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. However, Axios has found no evidence to corroborate this claim.)
  • Trump replied: "You mean like fake news?"
  • Miller said: "Yeah! It was the first fake news."
  • Trump: "Can I say that [at the rally]?"
  • Miller: "Yeah!"
  • The lieutenant governor then chimed in: "No, no. You probably shouldn't."

But Trump did: "You know where it made a big difference right here in El Paso and I've been watching where they've been trying to say. 'Oh the wall didn't make that much.' Well, you take a look at what they did with their past crimes and how they made them from very serious to much lesser you take a look at what the real system is. I spoke to people that have been here a long time."

Miller said that after arriving, the president approached the mayor and "they had a few words." "It was cordial, but he got right in his face a little bit. I wasn't close enough to hear, but they were within six inches of eyesight of each other."

  • Olivia Zepeda, Margo's chief of staff, told Axios: "There was no confrontation between the mayor and the president. They shook hands and greeted each other, and that was the extent of their encounter."
  • The White House didn't respond for the record. The lieutenant governor and attorney general also didn't respond.

Go deeper: Trump and Beto battle over border wall in dueling rallies

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to clarify that Trump did bring up El Paso crime statistics at the rally, and to include his quote on the subject.

Go deeper

Axios Dashboard

Keep up with breaking news throughout the day — sign up for our alerts.

What to watch in tonight's Democratic debate

Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Colorado. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Bernie Sanders is now the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his opponents are ready to try to knock him down at tonight's debate in Charleston, South Carolina — especially Michael Bloomberg, who was the punching bag at the Las Vegas debate.

Why it matters: This is the last debate before Super Tuesday, when Sanders is expected to win California and Texas and could secure an insurmountable lead for the Democratic nomination. That's a direct threat to the entire field, but especially to Bloomberg, who skipped the early states to focus on the March 3 contests.

Bob Iger to step down as CEO of Disney

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The Walt Disney Company said Tuesday that it had named longtime Disney executive Bob Chapek as CEO Bob Iger's successor, effectively immediately. Iger will remain executive chairman of the company through 2021.

Why it matters: Iger is credited with having successfully turned around Disney’s animation and studio businesses and with the strategic acquisition of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. Most recently, he was the person behind Disney's successful launch of its Netflix rival Disney+.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business