One of President Donald Trump’s most famous campaign pledges from the 2016 election was to force the Mexican government to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
However, a leaked transcript of a phone call between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto obtained by the Washington Post shows that Trump understood that he would never get Mexico to fully pay for the wall — but he nonetheless begged his Mexican counterpart to stop saying so publicly.
“On the wall, you and I both have a political problem,” Trump told Peña Nieto. “My people stand up and say, ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language… I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to. I have been talking about it for a two-year period.”
Peña Nieto, however, was resistant to this and again insisted that his government would not pay for the wall.
“My position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall,” he told Trump.
“But you cannot say that to the press,” Trump insisted. “The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”
Trump suggested that the two men agree to negotiate over how the wall would get paid for, and he said they could work out a deal where Mexico wouldn’t actually end up paying for it. Specifically, Trump told the Mexican president that funding for the wall “will work out in the formula somehow” and that Mexico’s share of the costs “will come out in the wash, and that is okay.”