Politics

Trump disputes Kelly’s claim, tweets that concrete wall could still be built

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Outgoing White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, right, who was critical of President Trump in an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, is leaving his post in the Trump administration this week after 16 months in the job.
(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump claimed Monday that he has not given up on fulfilling his signature campaign promise of building a concrete border wall, pushing back on his outgoing chief of staff’s admission in a weekend interview that the administration long ago abandoned the idea.

“An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media,” Trump tweeted.

“Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!”

The tweet comes as a government shutdown, forced by the president’s refusal to accept a funding proposal without more border security money, stretches into a 10th day — and just one day after John F. Kelly, the outgoing White House chief of staff, told the Los Angeles Times that Trump long ago gave up on the notion of building a physical border wall.

“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Kelly told The Times, signaling that the difference between what the president is selling to his political base and what the government may eventually build along the border is one of semantics.

“The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats,” Kelly told The Times. “But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”

Trump himself has in recent days tried to give himself more wiggle room, even tweeting an image of a proposed barrier made of “steel slats,” which would allow for people to see through it.

“A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful!” Trump tweeted, including an image showing a series of slats with pointed tops.

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eli.stokols@latimes.com

@EliStokols