Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Chief of Staff Admits Trump's Border Wall Promises Were "Uninformed"

Carol Daniels | 19 January, 2018, 02:00

President Donald Trump said Thursday his position on building a wall along the border between the USA and Mexico "has never changed or evolved", contradicting remarks by his chief of staff, John Kelly.

Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, told some Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Trump had "evolved" on the issue of the wall, and that the president was not "fully informed" when he promised to build such a barrier a year ago.

Kelly didn't confirm the comments, but he made similar remarks to Fox News, saying Trump had "very definitely changed his attitude" toward protecting the young immigrants "and even the wall, once we briefed him".

Trump tweeted Thursday morning: "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 meant to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water".

Guajardo wrote that "Mexico will never pay for that wall" while Smith asserted that " a border wall is not, and will never be, part of the NAFTA negotiations".

Chief among them was the promise that the United States was going to build a wall along the entire Southern border and that Mexico would foot the bill. Since taking office, he has acknowledged there were geographical barriers such as mountains and rivers along the border where a wall would not be necessary. "It fell short of certainly what he was looking for based on the Thursday conversation and other conversations", Kelly said.

Last year Mr Trump said his wall would cover 1,000 miles with natural obstacles taking care of the rest. He said it was more likely that the United States would recoup the money from visa fees and renegotiation the North American Free Trade Agreement.

After serving as homeland security secretary and commander of USA military forces in Latin America, Kelly told lawmakers that he has helped Trump "evolve on issues of the wall".

As recently as Sunday, Trump was far more pessimistic about the program's future and criticized its Democratic supporters.

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In The New York Times' telling of that meeting, Kelly says the president's views were not "fully informed" during his 2016 campaign as he touted the central "Build the wall" message. The president has shifted his tone on what the wall might look like, though.

"The overwhelming number in our caucus have said they don't like this deal and they believe if we kick the can down the road this time we'll be back where we started from next time", Schumer told reporters.

But on the wall, Kelly said he came to learn after speaking with experts that there are places it wouldn't be realistic because of geographical conditions.

Trump ended the legal shields on "Dreamers" a year ago and gave Congress until March to renew them.

The Republican president had signalled he was ready to make a deal to help the Dreamers, in return for border security funding to include a wall on the Mexican border.

"There was no direction given by the White House", Gallego said.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said there's "very, very strong" sentiment among Democrats in the chamber to oppose GOP-drafted legislation to keep the government's doors open.

"There's no doubt in my mind there's going to be a deal, so long as men and women on both sides are willing to talk", Kelly told Fox News.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., laid the groundwork Wednesday for attacks on Democrats who vote against the funding plan, arguing that failing to pass the bill would hurt the military as well as beneficiaries of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which the bill would extend.

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