Since his 2015 campaign kickoff, Donald Trump has been peddling his claim that America needs a massive wall covering the entire border between the United States and Mexico in order to keep the nation safe. He has (without evidence) presented this as his panacea for America’s drug problem, terrorism, gang violence, and illegal immigration.
But in a Fox News interview on Thursday night, Trump announced that he will most likely not demand this supposedly vital national security step because doing so could hurt the Republican Party in the November midterms.
13 Syrian refugees were caught trying to get into the U.S. through the Southern Border. How many made it? WE NEED THE WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2015
Mexico was just ranked the second deadliest country in the world, after only Syria. Drug trade is largely the cause. We will BUILD THE WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017
Don't let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2017
Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump pretended that Mexico would pay for the multi-billion dollar project. Since his election, he has demanded that Congress appropriate $25 billion in taxpayer money for construction of his “Great Wall,” saying that Mexico will somehow reimburse that “a little later.” In a leaked conversation with the president of Mexico last year, Trump admitted that the origin of the funding for the wall was important only politically, not substantively.
In recent weeks has has alternately lied to the country with the false clam that his wall is already being built and proposing to shut down the government to force Congress to appropriate the money to build it.
Dishonest media says Mexico won't be paying for the wall if they pay a little later so the wall can be built more quickly. Media is fake!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
But in his Fox & Friends interview, recorded at a campaign rally in Montana Thursday night, Trump said he most likely would not “upset the apple cart” even for border security because it could harm his party’s political fortunes in November.
“I guess when you get right down to it, it is up to me. But I don’t want to do anything that’s going to hurt us or potentially hurt us,” he explained, “Because I have a feeling that the Republicans we will do very well. We have the strongest economy we’ve ever had. I think we’re gonna do really well in the midterms.”
But Trump’s oath of office required him to defend the nation — not his party. While there is little evidence that a $25 billion wall would actually solve those problems, he has been the one claiming that such a move is vital to that national defense. And now he is conceding that he believes it to be less important than whether the Republicans continue to hold Congress in 2019.
“What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people…” Trump claimed in his 2017 inaugural address. “The time for empty talk is over.” Apparently not.