After months of touting that Mexico will pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, Donald Trump seems to be making an about-face on the issue.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign headed over the southern border for an impromptu closed-door meeting with Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto. The GOP Presidential nominee discussed trade, security and immigration with President Peña Nieto. But on the most pressing concern of who will front the bill for the wall, it’s unclear what was discussed — or if anything was discussed at all.
When probed about his most brazen campaign pledge at the press conference following the sit-down, Trump said the issue of payment was never discussed.
“We did discus the wall, we didn’t discuss payment of the wall,” he said. “That will be for a later date.”
President Peña Nieto was mum during Trump’s account at the press conference. But soon after, he took to Twitter to contest Trump’s side of the story.
“At the start of my conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Peña Nieto tweeted out to his 5 million followers. “
The varying accounts of what took place in the private meeting further spotlights the contention between the two. In an immigration speech in Phoenix shortly after, Trump doubled down on his pledge to build the wall, reiterating that Mexico would pay for it.
The wall, he said, would be “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful” and “beautiful.”
Since June of last year when Trump launched his presidential campaign, he has been slamming Mexico with egregious claims that it sends rapists, drugs and criminals to the U.S.
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Peña Nieto clapped back at Trump likening his rhetoric about immigrants to Adolf Hilter while asserting there was no scenario in which Mexico would pay for a wall.
Even still, some critics, like former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, had hoped Peña Nieto would use this opportunity to publicly rebuke Trump face-to-face for his mischaracterization of Mexican people.
Instead Peña Nieto, who reportedly extended the invitation to Trump, appeared agreeable; although acknowledging that Trumps language had “hurt and affected Mexicans.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seized the opportunity to offer her own critiques of the meeting.
“Trump just failed his first foreign test. Diplomacy isn’t as easy as it looks,” she tweeted.