In this March 5, 2018, photo, boys look through an older section of the border structure from Mexicali, Mexico, alongside a newly-constructed, taller section...
Gregory Bull

Why Trump suggested his supporters stop chanting, ‘Build that wall!’

Donald Trump headlined a campaign rally in South Carolina this week, and his supporters on hand for the event did what the president’s backers always do: they chanted “Lock her up” and “Built that wall.”

But this time, Trump discouraged attendees from repeating the latter phrase. From the transcript:

“Oh, it’s happening. That’s happening. Oh, it’s happening. It’s not ‘build that wall’ anymore; it’s ‘continue building that wall,’ because we’re building it. We’re building it, we’re fixing it miles and miles, we’ve got $1.6 billion, we’re fixing the wall, we’re building wall in San Diego…. We’re building the wall.”

At a White House event yesterday, the president stressed the same point.

“We’re discussing, today, the funding of the wall, which we very much need. We started the wall. We’re spending a lot of energy and a lot of time. And started up in San Diego and other places; it’s under construction now.”

It’s not under construction now. He’s lying.

As Trump almost certainly knows by now, the recent omnibus spending package, which the president grudgingly signed in March, set aside $1.6 billion to be used to repair and build previously approved fencing – and none of the money can be used to build Trump’s wall.

But in this case, Trump’s dishonesty is less interesting than Trump’s plan. The Republican White House apparently expects Congress to approve wall funding in the next federal spending package, on track for September. Just how far does the president intend to push this line?

The Washington Post  reported two weeks ago that Trump met privately with some Senate Republicans at the White House, and he “reupped his threat to shut down the government in September if he doesn’t get money for the border wall, according to two people familiar with the meeting.”

The issue of family separations, the article added, “was mentioned in passing.”

In other words, Trump’s focus remains where it’s been: pushing lawmakers to give him taxpayer money to build a giant wall.

At the end of yesterday’s meeting with GOP lawmakers, a reporter asked, “Is building a wall worth a shutdown, sir? Is building a wall worth a shutdown at the end of September?”

Trump replied, “We’ll see. We’ll see.”

Donald Trump

Why Trump suggested his supporters stop chanting, 'Build that wall!'