The transcript of President Donald Trump’s call to Mexican president during his first week in office to discuss building the Mexican border wall has been released by Washington Post. The transcript of his call to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was also released.
In it, Trump is reported to have told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to stop saying publicly that his government would not pay for the wall.
During his campaign, Trump vowed to make Mexico pay for the wall and during his call with Nieto, it seemed he was worried about looking like a weak president if he was not able to make Mexico pay for the wall.
Trump pressured Peña Nieto to stop talking about the issue to the press because it will make him (Trump) look bad. He gave the impression that he was only asking Peña Nieto to pay for the wall because he did not want to look like a weak president in the eyes of the American people.
“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. I have been talking about it for a two-year period…” Trump said.
When Peña Nieto insisted that Mexico won’t pay for the wall, Trump then told him: “But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”
He goes on: “From an economic issue, it is the least important thing we’re talking about but psychologically, it means something, so let us just say, ‘we will work it out'”
At some point during the call, he also says: “On the wall, you and I both have a political problem. My people stand up and say, ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language.”
Trump realized the funding for the wall will have to come from other sources but he did not want people to know that so he pressured Peña Nieto to suppress the issue and threatened to cut off contact if Mexican President continued to say publicly that his government would never pay.
Trump told Peña Nieto that when asked who would pay for the wall, “We should both say, ‘We will work it out.’ It will work out in the formula somehow. He later added that “it will come out in the wash, and that is okay.” But “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.”
The transcripts were prepared by the White House but have not been released. The Post is publishing reproductions rather than original documents in order to protect sources. They show how Trump approaches the diplomatic aspects of his job by using threats and invectives even for a long-standing ally like Australia.
Trump’s Jan. 28 call with Turnbull became particularly hostile. The two presidents argued about an agreement U.S. had with Australia over resettling refugees. The refugee resettlement deal was struck by Barack Obama and Trump once described it as “dumb”. Recall that during his campaign, he vowed to regulate the way refugees were being allowed into the country, so he felt it would reflect negatively on him if he didn’t follow through. Just like his call with Peña Nieto, during his call with Turnbull, it was obvious Trump was only concerned with how any approach was going to reflect on him.
“This is going to kill me,” he said to Turnbull. “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people.”
When they could not find a common ground, Trump erupted, telling Turnbull: “I have had it. I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day.”
Before ending the call with Turnbull, Trump referred to his call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying: “Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”
The White House declined to comment after the transcript of Trump’s conversation was released. An official familiar with both conversations, who refused to speak on the record because the president’s calls have not been declassified, said:
“The president is a tough negotiator who is always looking to make the best possible deals for the American people. The United States has many vital interests at stake with Mexico, including stopping the flow of illegal immigration, ending drug cartels’ reach into our communities, increasing border security, renegotiating NAFTA and reducing a massive trade deficit. In every conversation the president has with foreign leaders, he is direct and forceful in his determination to put America and Americans first.”
Watch video below for the transcript of both calls.