President Donald Trump raised a few eyebrows Friday when he said that former presidents have told him privately they regret not building the wall along the southern border. “This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me and they all know it,” Trump said during the Friday Rose Garden news conference. “Some of them have told me that we should have done it.” But three of the four living former presidents said that wasn’t the case, and it seems highly unlikely the other one would have said that at at all.
Former President Bill Clinton’s spokesman, Angel Ureña, made it clear to Politico that if anyone had said that, it certainly wasn’t Clinton. “He did not,” Ureña said. “In fact, they’ve not talked since the inauguration.” Former President George W. Bush’s spokesman, Freddy Ford, also said the two never discussed the issue. Former President Barack Obama, meanwhile, hasn’t spoken Trump once since the inauguration except for exchanging a few words at former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral. Plus, Obama has often criticized Trump’s push for a wall.
A spokesperson for former President George H.W. Bush who died in November, didn’t respond to a request for comment but it seems highly unlikely the two would have discussed the issue considering the late president never hid the fact that he didn’t like Trump very much. And former President Jimmy Carter has said that it would be more effective to apply technological advancements to protect the border rather than a wall.
Another person who is skeptical of the claim? Former Vice President Joe Biden. “I can’t think of a single one who said that,” he told CNN’s Randi Kaye. “Come on.”
The White House refused to specify what on earth Trump was talking about, noting afterward that the president was likely referring to public comments they had made about border security, according to the New York Times. When he was asked about the issue Sunday, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney essentially shrugged. “I have no idea,” Mulvaney said on CNN. “I haven’t asked the president that question.” But Mulvaney also pushed back against the criticism, saying the former presidents were being disingenuous. “I don’t know what the presidents mean when they say they weren’t supporting a wall,” Mulvaney said. “George Bush was president in 2006 when they signed a Secure Fence Act, which is what we’re using to build the wall.”
On Sunday, Trump once again tried to push the idea that the wall once had bipartisan support until he came along, quoting both former president Obama and Hillary Clinton. “The only reason they do not want to build a Wall is that Walls Work!” Trump wrote. “99% of our illegal Border crossings will end, crime in our Country will go way down and we will save billions of dollars a year!”