Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday failed to justify President Trump’s claim that former presidents supported his calls for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
During an interview on Today, NBC News’ Hallie Jackson pressed Pence on the issue.
“Which former presidents told President Trump, as he said, that he should’ve built a wall?” Jackson asked. “All their representatives have denied that that was the case.”
“Which former presidents told President Trump, as he said, that he should’ve built a wall? All their representatives have denied that that was the case.” @halliejackson to @VP Mike Pence pic.twitter.com/7xAH05aheE
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 8, 2019
Pence replied that Trump was only given the “impression” that previous presidents wanted him to build a wall.
“I know the President has said that that was his impression from previous administrations, previous presidents,” Pence said. “I know I’ve seen clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security, of addressing the issue of illegal immigration.”
Trump initially made the comments during a Friday news conference with reporters to address the government shutdown and his demands for more than $5 billion in border wall funding.
“This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me and they all know it,” Trump said. “Some of them have told me that we should have done it.”
Three representatives for his predecessors, however, deny they ever supported Trump’s idea of a border wall.
“I have not discussed the border wall with President Trump, and do not support him on the issue,” President Jimmy Carter, the oldest living president, said in a statement through his representatives Monday.
A spokesman for President George W. Bush told CNN that the two men “haven’t discussed this.”
Angel Urena, a spokesperson for President Bill Clinton, also said this week that Clinton “never said that,” adding, “They’ve not talked since inauguration.”
President Barack Obama has repeatedly come out on the record against a wall since Trump first floated the idea.
“A nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself,” Obama said at the United Nations in 2016.
Pence’s remarks come on the 17th day of a partial government shutdown which began December 21 over Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding, which Democrats have pointedly rejected. Several Republicans have since defected, joining Democrats in their call to re-open the government, which has furloughed around 400,000 federal workers, and forced approximately 400,000 more to work without pay.
President Trump will address the nation Tuesday night at 9 p.m. to discuss what he claims is a “crisis” at the border. Trump hopes to sway the general public on the issue of a wall, which has proven deeply unpopular. Recent polling suggests three-quarters of Americans want the president to compromise on the wall and re-open the federal government.