President Donald Trump told his Mexican counterpart that Mexico must pay for a border wall between that country and the U.S. because of promises Trump made on the campaign trail.
" I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to," Trump told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in a January 27 phone call, according to a transcript obtained and released by the Washington Post. "I have been talking about it for a two year period, and the reason I say they are going to pay for the wall is because Mexico has made a fortune out of the stupidity of U.S. trade representatives."
The Post obtained full transcripts of Trump's January 27 call with Nieto along with transcripts of a January 28 call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. While these calls had been previously reported on, the full transcripts had not been revealed. According to the Post, the transcripts have not been declassified.
Peña Nieto had told Trump it was "completely unacceptable" for Mexico to fund the wall.
"I understand, Mr. President, the small political margin that you have now in terms of everything you said you established throughout your campaign. But I would also like to make you understand, President Trump, the lack of margin I have as President of Mexico to accept this situation. And this has been, unfortunately, the critical point that has not allowed us to move forward in the building of the relationship between our two countries," Peña Nieto told Trump.
Trump replied that it was very important politically for him to follow through on this promise. "This is what I have been saying for a year and a half on the campaign trail. I have been telling this to every group of 50,000 people or 25,000 people – because no one got people in their rallies as big as I did," he said. "I got elected on this proposal – this won me the election, along with military and health care."
When Peña Nieto continued to push back, Trump told the Mexican president that he could not tell the press of his opposition to the wall because Trump could not "negotiate under those circumstances."
Trump also emphasized to Peña Nieto that the border wall was necessary to stop the spread of drugs in the United States. “We have the drug lords in Mexico that are knocking the hell out of our country. They are sending drugs to Chicago, Los Angeles, and to New York. Up in New Hampshire – I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den." Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary, but lost the state in the 2016 general election.
Trump's January 28 conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull included an argument against accepting refugees detained in Australia, part of an agreement the United States had reached under former President Barack Obama. The phone call with Turnbull came one day after Trump implemented the first version of his executive order banning refugees from seven Middle East countries, sparking chaos at airports across the country.
"Boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people," Trump told Turnbull. "Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want, and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground ."
"Why is this so important?" Trump asked Turnbull. "I do not understand. This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country."