After President Donald Trump asserted in a speech last week that “some” ex-presidents have told him they support his border wall efforts, their representatives are speaking out to rebut that claim.
Following a Friday meeting between the commander-in-chief and Congressional leaders over border security, Trump said in the Rose Garden that “this [building a wall] should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me.”
“And they all know it,” he continued. “Some of them have told me that we should have done it.”
Within days each of the living former presidents — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — had reportedly issued statements denying that they said such things.
When Hallie Jackson told him that all of the living presidents’ representatives said Trump was wrong, Pence replied with a semantic dodge: “The president has said that was his impression from previous administrations, previous presidents.”
“I know I’ve seen clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security, the importance of addressing illegal immigration,” Pence said.
When asked by Jackson if that’s “different from telling the president,” he did not respond directly, instead saying, “Honestly, the American people want us to address this issue.”
On Monday Carter became the most recent former president to publicly address Trump’s assertion. The Carter Center issued a brief statement on his behalf: “I have not discussed the border wall with President Trump, and do not support him on the issue.”
Angel Urena, a spokeswoman for Clinton, told CNN, the Washington Post and Politico that he never said a wall should’ve been built and that he hasn’t spoken to the real estate mogul “since inauguration.”
Freddy Ford, Bush’s spokesman, told Politico that he and Trump had never discussed the matter.
When reached for comment by the Post, an Obama spokesman, Eric Shultz, directed the outlet to past remarks Obama has made about border security and immigration.
A speech Obama gave at Rutgers University in 2016 is particularly telling.
“Suggesting that we can build an endless wall along our borders, and blame our challenges on immigrants — that doesn’t just run counter to our history as the world’s melting pot; it contradicts the evidence that our growth and our innovation and our dynamism has always been spurred by our ability to attract strivers from every corner of the globe,” he said. “That’s how we became America. Why would we want to stop it now?”
RELATED VIDEO: Michael Cohen Slams Trump in First Post-Sentencing Interview: ‘The Man Doesn’t Tell the Truth’
Trump has previously asserted on Twitter that former President Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004, tried and failed to build a wall.
“Even President Ronald Reagan tried for 8 years to build a Border Wall, or Fence, and was unable to do so,” he wrote Dec. 21, 2018, the day before the government shutdown began over funding the wall. “Others also have tried. We will get it done, one way or the other!”
As with Trump’s other assertion, former Reagan staffers denied this as well.
“There was not any discussion at the senior policy levels during the Reagan administration about fencing or a wall that I can recall,” Doris Meissner, who was executive associate commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Reagan administration, told the Post in an email.
The negotiations over funding the border wall have been fruitless so far.
The newly Democratic House of Representatives, empowered by decisive wins in the midterm elections, have dismissed Trump’s demand. This shutdown could become the longest in American history, surpassing the previous record of 21 days in the ’90s, under Clinton and a Republican-led Congress, according to CNN.