(CBS News) President Trump’s frustration with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s public denials that Mexico would pay for Mr. Trump’s southern border wall was on display in a transcript of the leaders’ January phone call, acquired and released by the Washington Post.
“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said repeatedly to Pena Nieto in response to his public outcries over refusing to fund the border wall, according to a transcript of the Jan. 27 call obtained by The Post.
“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,” Mr. Trump added.
The Post published the transcript of the call, which it said had been prepared by the White House but not released. The transcripts were reportedly based on records kept by White House notetakers who monitored Mr. Trump’s phone calls.
The transcript expands on previous reporting about the tense call between the two back in January, as well as his past exchanges with Pena Nieto during the campaign trail.
The president described his major campaign promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” as “the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.”
“On the wall, you and I both have a political problem,” Mr. Trump said. “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.
“I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to”, he pressed. “I have been talking about it for a two-year period.”
His reasoning for why Mexico should pay was that it had “made a fortune out of the stupidity of U.S. trade representatives. They are beating us at trade and they are beating us at the border, and they are killing us with drugs.” While acknowledging that Pena Nieto was “not involved with that,” Mr. Trump said that nonetheless, all of the billions of dollars made through drug trafficking “is bigger than the business of taking our factory jobs.”
During the call, the president placed much of the blame for America’s drug crisis on Mexican drug lords who “are sending drugs to Chicago, Los Angeles, and to New York.”
“We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy,” Mr. Trump said. He also claimed, “I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.” (In fact, Mr. Trump did not win New Hampshire in the presidential election, although he did win the New Hampshire GOP primary.)
The president suggested that the Mexican military is “afraid of” the drug lords, “but our military is not afraid of them,” and he offered to send U.S. help to Mexico.
Pena Nieto agreed that the two countries should work together but countered that drug trafficking in Mexico is “largely supported by the illegal amounts of money and weapons coming from the United States.”
Mr. Trump continued, pressing Pena Nieto to coordinate their messaging on the wall’s funding, saying, “[W]hat I would like to recommend is – if we are going to have continued dialogue – we will work out the wall,” Mr. Trump told him. “They are going to say, ‘Who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?’ to both of us, and we should both say, ‘we will work it out.'”
The president tried to assure his Mexican counterpart that the funding “will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay,’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay.'”
Ultimately Pena Nieto agreed that talking about the wall was counterproductive.
“Let us stop talking about who pays for the wall, talking about the wall in general, because I think there is a more creative way we can start looking for a solution,” he told Mr. Trump. “And it is the way we can remove the big block in our path.”
The Mexican Foreign Ministry had no comment about the Post’s report.
The House has since given tentative approval to a $1.6 billion down payment for Mr. Trump’s long-promised wall. The wall money is attached to defense spending legislation that has passed in the House.