- President Donald Trump has pushed for the Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract, possibly worth billions of dollars, to a North Dakota-based construction firm whose top executive, Tommy Fisher, frequently appears on Fox News and donates to the GOP, according to a report from The Washington Post.
- Military commanders and Department of Homeland Security officials were “alarmed” by “the push for a specific company,” administration officials told the Post.
- Fisher is a regular on conservative media outlets, where he often boosts of his border wall plan and criticises “bureaucracy” for delaying construction efforts. He also said his company could build more than 200 miles of wall in under a year.
- The Department of Homeland Security and the Army Corps previously found issues with Fisher’s proposal for the wall. The company sued the federal government last month after the Army Corps didn’t accept its bid to install barriers along the border.
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President Donald Trump is rallying for a North Dakota construction firm to build his “big, beautiful” border wall, because the company’s top executive, Tommy Fisher, frequently appears on Fox News and donates to the GOP.
According to a report from The Washington Post, Trump has pushed for the Army Corps of Engineers to award the border wall contract – possibly worth billions of dollars – to Dickinson, North Dakota-based Fisher Industries. Military commanders and Department of Homeland Security officials were “alarmed” by “the push for a specific company,” administration officials told the Post.
Fisher sued the federal government last month after the Army Corps didn’t accept its bid to install barriers along the border.
The president reportedly favours Fisher because of the company’s “public claims that a new weathered steel design and innovative construction method would vastly speed up the project – and deliver it at far less cost to taxpayers.”
During an Oval Office meeting on Thursday that included Lt. Gen Todd Semonite, the commanding general of the Army Corps, and other Pentagon officials, Trump immediately brought up Fisher, an administration official told the Post. The president also expressed issues with the current design of the wall’s gates, asking, “why not French doors?” according to the official.
Rep. Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who supports Fisher obtaining the contract and has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Fisher and his family members, told the Post that Trump supports the company because he’s seen Fisher on television.
While Cramer received more than $US10,000 from Fisher and his wife while he was running for Senate in 2018, according to campaign finance records reviewed by the Post, he told the publication those donations did not influence his decision to back the company’s efforts to build the wall. “I was doing it before they were a financial contributor… for no other reason than the fact he’s a constituent of mine,” Cramer said.
As noted by the Post, Fisher is a regular on conservative media outlets, where he often boosts his border wall plan and criticises “bureaucracy” for delaying construction efforts. He also said his company could build more than 200 miles of wall in under a year.
“He’s been very aggressive on TV,” Cramer said, adding: “you know who else watches Fox News?”
The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has also lobbied in favour of Fisher Industries receiving the contract, according to the Post.
“Fisher has invited officials of many agencies and members of Congress to demonstrate what we believe are vastly superior construction methods and capabilities,” Scott Sleight, Fisher’s attorney said in a statement. “Consistent with the goals President Trump has also outlined, Fisher’s goal is to, as expeditiously as possible, provide the best quality border protection at the best price for the American people at our Nation’s border.”
While White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in an email to the Post that Trump “is one of the country’s most successful builders and knows better than anyone how to negotiate the best deals,” the Department of Homeland Security previously found issues with Fisher’s border wall prototype. “The company’s concrete design did not afford the see-through visibility that DHS officials wanted,” according to the Post.
Then-DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials told Trump earlier this spring that Fisher could bid for the contract, but that the company would need to alter its wall proposal. Nielsen and Semonite told the president that he couldn’t just pick a company for the project.
A senior White House official told the Post that Trump never explicitly told Semonite that he must award Fisher with the contract. Rather, the president “had repeatedly brought up Fisher Industries as an option because he sees the process as too expensive and too slow.”
Read the full report here
Correction: this article has been updated to reflect that the Army’s chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley was not at the Thursday Oval Office meeting.
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