The recently-released transcript of a January phone call between Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto showed the commander-in-chief boasting about his electoral victory and pressuring his southern counterpart to stay silent on the subject of a border wall.
The conversation’s contents were released Thursday by The Washington Post, which were purportedly obtained from a source within the White House.
Among the documents was a record of the call between Trump and Nieto, which took place on January 27th.
The first direct communication between the two leaders came a week after the President’s inauguration – two full days after Donald Trump signed an executive order authorizing the construction of an improved wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
While the conversation mostly centered around issues like trade and immigration, Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for an American border wall clearly offended Nieto’s sense of political propriety.
“Let me tell you, Mr. President, this is not a personal difference. It has nothing to do with you personally, Mr. President,” said Nieto, hardly a minute into the call. “But it is an unthinkable [sic] that I cannot ignore this because we find this completely unacceptable for Mexicans to pay for the wall that you are thinking of building.”
After Trump finished explaining his position on the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico – and admitting that the call’s interpreter spoke better English than himself – the President moved on to the Drug War.
“Up in New Hampshire – I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den – is coming from the southern border,” Trump said. “So we have a lot of problems with Mexico farther [sic] than the economic problem. But I will say this – you have that problem too. You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with, and we are willing to help you out with that big-league. But they have to be knocked out and you have not done a good job of knocking them out.”
The President didn’t seem keen on delving too deep into the issue – he quickly turned his attention back to the border wall.
In a remarkably strange attempt to persuade a fellow head-of-state, Trump tried to put pressure on Nieto by hearkening back to the 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton.
“But the fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind,” Trump explained, “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 U.S. trade representatives,” he said.
The commander-in-chief’s seeming inability to appreciate the finer points of diplomacy wasn’t his only early-office gaffe. Aside from demanding that Nieto not “talk to the press” about his refusal to pay for a border wall, Trump also tried talking himself up to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
President Trump, speaking to the Australian PM about refugee resettlement and immigration, referred to himself as “the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country.”
Vexed by the Turnbull’s insistence that the United States stand by a resettlement deal approved by the Obama administration, President Trump abruptly ended the call by saying, “As far as I am concerned, that is enough Malcolm.
“I’ve had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”