Trump promised Mexico would pay for wall but US official says that’s ‘not the focus’
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Trump promised repeatedly during the election campaign that Mexico would pay for a border wall with the U.S., but one of his cabinet secretaries said getting the United States’ southern neighbor to pay for a wall is “not the focus for the moment.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday that the Trump administration’s two priorities in dealings with Mexico are immigration and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Stephanopoulos noted that when Trump was asked by a reporter Friday at the G-20 summit in Germany if he still wants Mexico to pay for a border wall, the president responded “absolutely,” but there was nothing in a readout of the meeting between him and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto suggesting they had discussed that issue.
“Mexico is not going to pay for [the wall], are they?” Stephanopoulos asked on “This Week.”
“I didn’t say that,” Mnuchin said. “The president has said that he expects that it will be paid for. And we’ll deal with that at the right time.”
Mnuchin said the administration has made “enormous progress” with Mexico in combating illegal immigration and is “looking forward to renegotiating NAFTA,” which he said is “a significant accomplishment.”
Stephanopoulos pressed, “Isn’t it time to concede that Mexico is not going to pay for that wall and you’re not going to be able to renegotiate NAFTA if you insist on Mexico paying for the wall?”
“What I would say is that’s not the focus for the moment,” the treasury secretary responded.
Trump repeatedly insisted during his presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for a border wall.
Then in October, the month before the election, Trump suggested Mexico could reimburse U.S. taxpayers for the project.
He repeated that suggestion in January in an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir, when he said that Mexico would be paying for the proposed border wall and that negotiations between the two nations would begin “relatively soon.”
“Ultimately, it will come out of what’s happening with Mexico … and we will be in a form reimbursed by Mexico, which I’ve always said,” Trump said.
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