WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that Mexico will pay “through reimbursement/other” for his promised border wall, relaying the message amid tweets touting the federal government’s response to Harvey’s destruction.
The president vowed to visit Texas when the trip “can be made without causing disruption” and repeatedly sought to reassure Texans while marveling at the storm’s scale.
“Wow — Now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood!” he posted. “We have an all out effort going, and going well!”
Trump will travel to Texas on Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, adding that the administration continues “to keep all of those affected in our thoughts and prayers.” Trump on Friday approved a disaster declaration for Texas.
He spent the weekend at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland, where he held a video teleconference Sunday with his Cabinet members to discuss the response to Harvey.
Before the call, he tweeted a pledge to hold Mexico to his campaign promise that the country will foot the bill for the barrier it will share at the border with the United States.
Mexico has said it will not and cannot pay, and Trump has requested $1.6 billion through the congressional appropriations process this fall for new and replacement portions of the wall.
“With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL,” the president tweeted. “Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.”
White House Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert defended the approach Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“What we’ll do here is go through the mechanism of getting the original initial money that we need for that capital project from Congress,” Bossert said. “As we work with the Mexicans in other policies and trade policies and such, we’ll determine ways for us to make that right.”
Bossert also faced questions on the president’s pardon of former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio — announced late Friday as Harvey was barreling down on Texas.
Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a judge’s order in a racial-profiling case involving his immigration patrols targeting Latinos.
Members of Trump’s party criticized the pardon, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who said he disagreed with it, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who said it undermines Trump’s claim of respect for the rule of law.
Bossert told CBS News’ “Face the Nation”: “The president weighed the totality of the circumstances and the sheriff’s history of service, both in the military and to the law enforcement community, and decided that the 80-something-year-old man with his history and record of service deserved clemency at this point.”
Trump via Twitter also renewed his threat to abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?” he posted.
He separately predicted that a Republican would unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, which he said he would soon visit and where “I won by a lot in ‘16,” and plugged a book by supporter Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wis.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) criticized the tweet about Missouri, writing, “My god. At this exact moment people are dying in the worst natural disaster of his Presidency & instead of leading he’s attacking Democrats.”