Politics

Ahead of Meeting With Democratic Leaders, Trump Repeats False Wall Claim

President to meet with Schumer and Pelosi to talk border wall funding

President Donald Trump said Democrats have resisted border security for political reasons and because they have been “pulled so far left.” (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, just hours ahead of a key meeting on the issue with Democratic leaders, made an impassioned plea for his southern border wall — and repeated another partially false claim.

The commander in chief claimed that “large Caravans that WERE forming and heading to our Country” have ceased in Central America because of “our newly built Walls, makeshift Walls & Fences, or Border Patrol Officers & Military.”

Congressional Democrats and analysts, however, contend that while there is existing fencing and new fencing, Trump has yet to build any of it.

“They are now staying in Mexico or going back to their original countries,” Trump wrote, calling in another tweet for a “Great Wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The GOP president then turned his ire in congressional Democrats, contending they oppose his border barrier proposal “for strictly political reasons and because they have been pulled so far left, do NOT want Border Security.”

But a number of Senate Democrats signed onto a bipartisan border security bill that Trump personally helped stifle last year, leading them to contend his is a my-way-or-the-highway negotiating style on the issue that demands hard-right proposals they vehemently oppose.

“They want Open Borders for anyone to come in. This brings large scale crime and disease,” he tweeted of Democrats without proof and using false rhetoric that fires up his conservative base. “Our Southern Border is now Secure and will remain that way.......”

Trump will meet in the Oval Office late Tuesday morning with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer less than two weeks before a deadline to pass legislation to keep the Department of Homeland Security and several other agencies funded and open beyond 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 21. He wants $5 billion for the project; they are prepared to offer just over $1 billion, meaning a deal Tuesday seems unlikely as both sides make their first offers.

White House officials on Monday said Trump wants to have a back-and-forth with the Democratic leaders rather than just expressing his demands in a mostly one-way conversation.

The top Democrats reportedly are reportedly prepared to offer Trump $1.3 billion for more border fencing and upgrades of existing fencing while House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said last week that $1.6 billion could be an agreeable figure if it was not to be spent on building a wall. Senior Democratic aides, eager for their bosses to avoid angering that party’s progressive wing, often are quick to note the distinction between supporting Trump’s wall and the fencing, which has support of members of both parties.

Of the late-morning powwow, Trump wrote this about four hours before the duo known colloquially as “Chuck and Nancy” will step foot inside the Oval Office: “I look forward to my meeting with Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi.

But then he, as he often does, wrote a claim that is betrayed by the facts: “In 2006, Democrats voted for a Wall, and they were right to do so. Today, they no longer want Border Security.”

The president has made that claim before, as did his budget director, former GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who said during an April 2017 interview on Fox News: “We still don’t understand why the Democrats are so wholeheartedly against it. They voted for it in 2006. Then-Senator Obama voted for it. Senator Schumer voted for it. Senator Clinton voted for it. So we don’t understand why Democrats are now playing politics just because Donald Trump is in office.”

PolitiFact, a nonpartisan fact-checking organization, assessed the claim and found many Democrats did indeed support the the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which green-lit the construction of fencing along 700 miles of the southern border.

“Mulvaney’s statement is partially accurate, but ignores important context,” PolitiFact concluded. “We rate it Half True.”

The president also suggested if Democrats do not supply the needed votes for his wall proposal he would order the U.S. military to erect the barrier. But the Pentagon does not possess the around $20 billion that would be needed, and would have to secure the monies from Congress with Democrats taking over the House in January.

After venting about the wall situation, it was on to other topics. First he praised a former National Security Council spokesman who was ousted. Then he pivoted to China amid trade tensions and last-ditch negotiations with Beijing: “Very productive conversations going on with China! Watch for some important announcements!”

The president also claimed that 10 people are “vying for” White House chief of staff to replace the departing John Kelly amid media reports that the president is having difficulty finding someone to fill the role.

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