President Trump raised eyebrows on Thursday when he maintained that he had never said Mexico would directly pay for a border wall. "I never meant they're going to write out a check,” Trump said, per the Washington Post. "I said they're going to pay for it. They are. They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made, called the United States, Mexico, and Canada—USMCA —deal." On Friday, Trump reiterated the point. "I often said during rallies, with little variation, that 'Mexico will pay for the Wall,'" he tweeted. The revised NAFTA deal is "Billions of Dollars a year better" than the old one, and "the difference pays for Wall many times over!" Some of the reaction:
- Criticism on Fox: Neil Cavuto of Fox News is among those criticizing the shift in semantics, reports the Daily Beast. "The president once said that Mexico would pay for the wall," he said, playing a montage of Trump at campaign rallies. "Apparently he didn't mean it." On the flip side, Cavuto also thinks Democrats are being disingenuous, sounding less concerned about border dangers than they did just a few months ago.
- His campaign website: In 2016, Trump's campaign website said this in regard to funding the wall: "It's an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion..."
- More on that: The Trump campaign also suggested that if Mexico didn't pay for the wall, the US would penalize it with actions such as impounding remittances and increasing visa fees, reports Vox. This was actually a fairly detailed plan, one that would invoke Section 326 of the Patriot Act, writes Emily Stewart. It's also different from what Trump is saying now about using the revised NAFTA deal to get the money, she adds.
- Past statements: At the Washington Post, Philip Bump details Trump statements on the subject going back to April 2015 and sums them up thusly: "He did, at times, claim that Mexico would carry out the equivalent of signing over a check." In April 2016, Trump told Fox's Sean Hannity: "They'll pay. They'll pay. In one form or another. They may even write us a check by the time they see what happens."
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