'It’s you & I against the world, Enrique' – Trump’s talk with Mexican leader leaked

'It’s you & I against the world, Enrique' – Trump’s talk with Mexican leader leaked
US President Donald Trump urged Mexican leader Enrique Pena Nieto to stop publicly stating that his country will not pay for the US-Mexico border wall, until the two can work out a deal, according to a transcript of their conversation.

The transcript of the January 27 phone call, published by the Washington Post on Thursday, begins with President Trump threatening to impose tariffs on products made in Mexico, in line with what the Republican had been saying on the campaign trail when promising to bring manufacturing jobs to the United States.

The day before their call, Pena Nieto canceled his visit to Washington following a Trump tweet which said: “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

During the phone conversation, Trump repeatedly urged Pena Nieto to stop telling the press that his country will not pay for the wall which Trump promised to build between the US and Mexico, the transcript shows.

“If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that,” the transcript quotes the US president as saying.

Instead Trump “recommended” that Pena Nieto say this to the press: “They are going to say, ‘who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?’ to both of us, and we should both say, ‘we will work it out.’ It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, ‘we will not pay’ and me saying, ‘we will not pay.’”

Trump said he was in a “political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to. I have been talking about it for a two-year period, and the reason I say they are going to pay for the wall is because Mexico has made a fortune out of the stupidity of US trade representatives.”

Pena Nieto appeared to agree on what both should tell the public.

“This is what I suggest, Mr. President – let us stop talking about the wall,” he said. “But my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall.”

“You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances,” Trump retorted.

The transcript also shows Trump touting the merits of the wall in terms of stopping drug traffickers and other criminals getting into the United States.

“[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu told me the wall works,” Trump said, noting that “Israel has a wall.”

Pena Nieto tried to object by raising his country’s own grievances: “Let me tell you that a lot of what is happening in terms of traffickers in Mexico is being largely supported by the illegal amounts of money and weapons coming from the United States. And this has led Mexico to fight against criminal gangs with the participation of the military and the entire army of Mexico.”

However, the transcript shows the phone call ending with pleasantries and Trump saying: “It is you and I against the world, Enrique, do not forget.”

Throughout the conversation Trump used the Mexican president’s first name - a total of 13 times - while Pena Nieto invariably addressed him as “Mr. President.”

The Washington Post published what it said was the reprinted version of the transcript of Trump’s phone call with Pena Nieto, along with a transcript of the call he had with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The Post has not disclosed the source, or sources, of the leak.

Despite the transcript suggesting that Trump and Pena Nieto agreed on January 27 not to publicly discuss who will pay for the wall, the US leader has since brought the issue up a number of times - most recently at the G20 Summit in Germany during his bilateral meeting with the Mexican president. Asked by reporters if he expected Mexico to finance a border wall, Trump responded: “Absolutely.” Pena Nieto did not challenge Trump’s response and sat silently next to him.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to spend $1.6 billion on building new and fortifying existing fencing on the US border with Mexico. Trump has yet to enact policies that would get Mexico to pay for it through import tariffs or other means, meaning American taxpayers will foot the bill, for now.