President Donald Trump demanded that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto stop publicly saying the country will not pay for the border wall, according to a transcript of a January 27 phone call between the two leaders published Thursday by The Washington Post.
“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said in the call, adding that the funding “will work out in the formula somehow” and “will come out in the wash, and that is ok.”
He continued: “If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”
Constructing a border wall paid for by the Mexican government was a cornerstone of Trump’s presidential campaign, despite repeated statements from Mexican leaders that no such funding would come from the country.
In the transcript of the call, Trump acknowledges that his campaign promise, and Peña Nieto’s refusal to accommodate it, have left both parties with a “political problem.”
“The fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to,” Trump said. “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 US trade representatives.”
Trump proposed that when either men are asked about payments for the wall, they should respond merely by saying, “We will work it out.”
“It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay.'”
Later in the call, Peña Nieto told Trump that his “position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall.”
“This is an issue related to the dignity of Mexico and goes to the national pride of my country,” he added.
Peña Nieto then requested that Trump move past the issue, arguing that discussing the wall was preventing them from moving on to other matters, and the pair could “find a creative way of looking into the issue.”
Trump agreed, adding that when asked by the press about the border wall, he would respond, “Let us see how it is going — let us see how it is working out with Mexico.”