Trump Asked Mexican President for Political Cover on Border Wall

WASHINGTON (CN) – A leaked transcript of President Donald Trump’s January phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto shows Trump asking that the Mexican leader stop publicly denying his country would pay for Trump’s proposed border wall.

The transcript of the call, which lasted nearly an hour, was published by the Washington Post on Thursday morning and shows Trump and Pena Nieto discussing trade, the border wall and each country’s efforts to combat drug trafficking and violent crime.

Trump asked Pena Nieto in the Jan. 27 call to stop telling the media that Mexico would not pay for Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, saying it was hurting him politically. Trump told Pena Nieto that the wall “is the least important thing we are talking about,” but that it had nevertheless been a central theme of his successful campaign.

“Because you and I are both at a point now where we are both saying we are not to pay for the wall,” Trump said. “From a political standpoint, that is what we will say. We cannot say that anymore because 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.”

Pena Nieto demurred, telling Trump that it “has nothing to do with you personally” but that it is “completely unacceptable for Mexicans to pay for the wall that you are thinking of building.”

“This is what I suggest, Mr. President – let us stop talking about the wall,” Pena Nieto said. “I have recognized the right of any government to protect is borders as it deems necessary and convenient. But my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall.”

Trump then asked Pena Nieto to at least not tell the press that Mexico would not be paying for the wall, with Pena Nieto saying the two countries should “look for a creative way to solve this issue.”

Trump spent a portion of the phone call telling Pena Nieto about his electoral victory and recounting the size of his rallies on the campaign trail. He told Pena Nieto that without the promise to build a wall he would not be in the oval office.

“This is the proposal I wanted,” Trump said. “But they say they can come up with some other idea and that is fine if they want to try it out. But I got elected on this proposal – this won me the election, along with military and health care. So this is not a new proposal this has been here for a year and half.”

Pena Nieto suggested that economic growth would be better than any wall Trump could build and asked Trump to help hammer out a “more fair trade relationship” with him.

“Let me tell you that the best virtual wall that I think we can build between our two countries is to make sure that both countries have economic development,” Pena Nieto said.

Trump also pushed Pena Nieto on the issue of drugs coming from Mexico into the United States, saying he won states like New Hampshire, which he called a “drug-infested den,” because of his stances on drug trafficking.

“You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with, and we are willing to help you with that big-league,” Trump said. “But they have to be knocked out and you have not done a good job of knocking them out.”

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, on Thursday demanded Trump issue an apology for his comments in the call.

Pena Nieto agreed that organized crime is a problem for both countries, but reminded Trump that many Mexican criminal organizations are funded and armed with money and weapons from the United States.

The Washington Post also published a transcript of Trump’s call with Australian President Malcolm Turnbull on the same day that shows the exact details of a call that was described as unpleasant in reports in January.

Trump and Turnbull discussed a deal, made under the Obama administration, that committed the United States to taking in economic refugees Australia had blocked from entering the country under an immigration policy that prevents refugees from coming to the country by boat.

Trump was reluctant to accept the deal, saying it would make him look like a “dope” because of an executive order he had just signed blocking refugees for 120 days as well as immigration from seven Muslim majority countries. Turnbull pressed Trump to remain true to the deal and repeatedly corrected him on its details.

Trump reluctantly accepted that he would have to honor the commitment, even if it would be “an embarrassment.”

Trump seemed to grow frustrated by the end of the call, complaining that it was the worst in a string of calls to foreign leaders he made that day.

“I have had it,” Trump said near the end of the call. “I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”

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