WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 09:  U.S. President Donald Trump (C) presides over a meeting about immigration with Republican and Democrat members of Congress, including (L-R) Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. In addition to seeking bipartisan solutions to immigration reform, Trump advocated for the reintroduction of earmarks as a way to break the legislative stalemate in Congress.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 09: U.S. President Donald Trump (C) presides over a meeting about immigration with Republican and Democrat members of Congress, including (L-R) Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. In addition to seeking bipartisan solutions to immigration reform, Trump advocated for the reintroduction of earmarks as a way to break the legislative stalemate in Congress. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:00
Trump talks about wall during WH meeting
President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
PHOTO: Richard Drew/AP
President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Now playing
02:17
Trump claim to world leaders met with laughter
PHOTO: CNNMoney
Now playing
06:22
How Trump's tweet sparked #WhyIDidntReport
President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking to law enforcement officials on the street gang MS-13, Friday, July 28, 2017, in Brentwood, N.Y.
PHOTO: Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking to law enforcement officials on the street gang MS-13, Friday, July 28, 2017, in Brentwood, N.Y.
Now playing
01:46
Trump's I'm-joking-but-not-really strategy
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15:  U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Alex Wong/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:20
Trump often says he's 'the least racist person'
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:00
Trump on Manafort: I feel sad about that
PHOTO: Pool
Now playing
01:22
Trump on Cordray: He was groomed by 'Pocahontas'
Now playing
05:58
Baldwin: This face behind Trump startled me
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:01
Trump responds to op-ed: 'Gutless'
PHOTO: CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
03:18
Why Woodward's book matters
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:13
Dean: Trump acts 'frighteningly dictatorial'
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08:  U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room at the White House May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. After two and a half years of negotiations, Iran agreed in 2015 to end its nuclear program in exchange for Western countries, including the United States, lifting decades of economic sanctions. Since then international inspectors have not found any violations of the terms by Iran.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room at the White House May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. After two and a half years of negotiations, Iran agreed in 2015 to end its nuclear program in exchange for Western countries, including the United States, lifting decades of economic sanctions. Since then international inspectors have not found any violations of the terms by Iran. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:31
Woodward book reveals 'crazytown' White House
PHOTO: CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
03:03
Trump's latest Twitter tirade lashes at media
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump waits to speak during a memorial service at the Pentagon for the 9/11 terrorist attacks  September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump waits to speak during a memorial service at the Pentagon for the 9/11 terrorist attacks September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:57
Trump warns of violence if GOP loses midterms
PHOTO: Photo Illustration: Getty Images/CNN Business
Now playing
01:40
Trump: Impeach somebody who's done great job?
PHOTO: Fox News Channel
Now playing
01:19
Trump on Sessions: What kind of man is this?

Story highlights

"They can pay for it indirectly through NAFTA," Trump said

Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign that he would build a wall on the Southern US border

(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump signaled Thursday that he is willing, if necessary, to use the NAFTA negotiations to make good on his promise for that Mexico will pay for a border wall.

The statement comes as his administration is in the midst of seeking federal funding for his long-promised border wall and also renegotiating the US’ trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“They can pay for it indirectly through NAFTA,” Trump said Thursday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “We make a good deal on NAFTA, and, say, ‘I’m going to take a small percentage of that money and it’s going toward the wall.’ Guess what? Mexico’s paying.”

Trump’s comments came hours after he was updated by his administration’s top economic and trade advisers on the progress of those negotiations and the administration’s trade actions more broadly.

Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign that he would build a wall on the Southern US border and force Mexico to pay for it. But Trump has seen little progress on either front, with Democrats in Congress refusing to greenlight funding for Trump’s border wall and the Mexican President making clear Mexico would never fund Trump’s proposed barrier.

But Trump has also previously suggested that he would seek indirect payment from Mexico to fund the wall. His latest assertion suggested he would direct a surplus in revenue from improved trade with Mexico toward paying for the wall – though he did not lay out a mechanism for doing so.

Trump warned Thursday that if Mexico did not agree to new terms on the free trade deal, known formally as the North American Free Trade Agreement, then he would simply “terminate” the deal.

“Now, Mexico may not want to make the NAFTA deal, which is OK, then I’ll terminate NAFTA, which I think would be frankly a positive for our country,” Trump told the Journal.

Trump’s comments could also confuse the administration’s efforts to extract funding for his border wall through legislation that would protect undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, after the President rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in the fall. Trump has signaled he would only agree to a DACA deal if it includes additional border security funding, including for a new border wall.

Still, Trump has repeatedly said he needed federal funding for the border wall – with repayment from Mexico to follow.