Mike Pence awkwardly dodged questions about Trump's claim that former presidents told him they should have built a border wall

  • Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday fielded several questions about President Donald Trump’s recent claim that his predecessors told him they wished they had built a wall along the US-Mexico border.
  • Trump said Friday that former presidents told him a border wall should have been built long ago.
  • Since then, representatives for all four living former presidents have denied Trump’s claim.
  • Pence offered a slight defence of the remark to NBC’s Hallie Jackson before pivoting away.
  • “I know I’ve seen clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security, the importance of addressing the issue of illegal immigration,” he said.

Multiple journalists grilled Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday about President Donald Trump’s false claim that his predecessors privately told him they wished they had built a border wall during their terms.

Pence appeared on NBC News and ABC News early Tuesday to discuss the administration’s push for a wall along the US-Mexico border amid a government shutdown stretching into its third week.

Trump triggered immediate scepticism on Friday when he said during a news conference that previous presidents acknowledged that a border wall should have been built long ago.

“This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me,” Trump said. “And they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it.”

Representatives for all four living presidents have recently said they never discussed the topic with Trump. Two of them – Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter – released statements condemning the wall.


Read more:
Trump goes off the rails in freewheeling news conference raging about the shutdown, the border wall, DACA, and Democrats

Bollard fence us-mexico border calexicoGetty Images/David McNewConstruction of a fence in Calexico, California, in April.

A representative for former President George H.W. Bush, who died in November, declined to comment to The Washington Post and said it was too soon for Bush to be “dragged into such debates.”

But when Pence was asked by NBC’s Hallie Jackson about the falsehood on Tuesday, he dodged the question.

“I know the president has said that that was his impression from previous administrations, previous presidents,” Pence said. “I know I’ve seen clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security, the importance of addressing the issue of illegal immigration.”

Jackson pushed back, asking, “That’s different from telling the president though, right?”

“Honestly, the American people want us to address this issue,” Pence said.

Pence similarly deflected when ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked about the falsehood.

“Well, look, the American people aren’t as concerned about the political debate as they are concerned about what’s really happening at the border,” Pence said.

He added: “The passion you hear from President Trump, his determination to take this case to the American people, as he will tonight in his national broadcast from the Oval Office, comes from this president’s deep desire to do his job to protect the American people.”

Pence was referring to Trump’s primetime address on border security scheduled for 9 p.m. ET. All the major broadcast and cable news networks – NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, and Fox – have announced they will carry the remarks live.

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