When Donald Trump pledged to shut down the government if Democrats won’t spend $5 billion in a down payment on his border wall, he completed a multi-year dramatic arc.
With help from the Trump Twitter archive and the President’s public statements, here’s how we got from Trump’s campaign pledge that Mexico would pay for the border wall to his latest shutdown pledge, asking US taxpayers to foot the bill – at least for now.
Mexico pay for the wall
Aug. 31, 2016: “Mexico will pay for the wall - 100%! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #ImWithYou https://t.co/pSFuPZz0xP”
September 1, 2016: “Mexico will pay for the wall!”
Mexico will pay for the wall ‘a little later’
January 6, 2017: “The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!”
January 8, 2017: “Dishonest media says Mexico won’t be paying for the wall if they pay a little later so the wall can be built more quickly. Media is fake!”
Mexico will pay, but it will be complicated
Money from the US budget will pay for the wall
April 23, 2017: “The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members.”
Mexico will pay for the wall ‘through reimbursement’
August 27, 2017: “With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.”
Mexico will pay for the wall ‘directly or indirectly’
Jan. 18, 2018: “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water….. ….The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is ‘peanuts’ compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad”
(Note: This was months before Trump agreed to a new version of NAFTA, USMCA, which does not not directly make Mexico pay for the wall).
Congress must fund the wall
March 13, 2018: “If we don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. Congress must fund the BORDER WALL & prohibit grants to sanctuary jurisdictions that threaten the security of our country & the people of our country. We must enforce our laws & protect our people! #BuildTheWall https://t.co/NGqNueukvj”
The wall will pay for itself
March 13, 2018: “‘According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the $18 billion wall will pay for itself by curbing the importation of crime, drugs and illegal immigrants who tend to go on the federal dole…’ https://t.co/NdLC6jZwWE”
Congress has funded the wall
March 21, 2018: “Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming. Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year…most ever. Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.”
(Note: Part of this year’s spending bill, only $38 million of this money could be used for “border barrier planning and design.” But it did not fund the wall.)
I will shut down the government
December 11, 2018: “You know what I’ll say: Yes, if we don’t get what we want, one way or the other – whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call – I will shut down the government. Absolutely.”
(Note: This was Trump during an Oval Office spat in front of cameras with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.)
Though Trump still does want Mexico to pay for the wall, During a private portion of his conversation with Pelosi and Schumer, he said that Mexico would be paying for the wall indirectly, Pelosi told fellow Democrats later in the day, according to CNN’s Manu Raju.
“He says, ‘Mexico is going to pay for the wall.’ I said, ‘They’re not paying for the wall.’ He said, ‘They’re paying for the wall with the money we’re gonna make over the newly revised USMCA,’” Pelosi told Democrats, according to an aide in the room. “I said, ‘That isn’t the fact. I’m gonna go out and tell people that you think that Mexico is paying for it with money that should be going into our economy.’ “