Washington: US President Donald Trump during his call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto acknowledged that his promise to get Mexico to pay for a controversial border wall has left him cornered as he described the wall "the least important thing".
The Washington Post on Thursday posted highly classified transcripts of Trump's conversations with Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in yet another embarrassing leak for the US President.
Trump promised throughout the 2016 campaign that not only will a wall on the Mexican-American border be built, but that Mexico would pay for it. Trump says he is building the wall to stop illegal immigration from Mexico.
In his conversation with Nieto, Trump is heard pleading that the Mexican president should stop saying that Mexico would not pay for the wall.
Trump seems to acknowledge that his threats to make Mexico pay had left him cornered politically, saying the fact is "we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall - I have to".
"Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about. But in terms of dollars - or pesos - it is the least important thing. I know how to build very inexpensively, so it will be much lower than these numbers I am being presented with, and it will be a better wall and it will look nice. And it will do the job," Trump said, while talking on the issue of building the wall on the Mexican- American border.
As per the transcripts, Trump is heard asking the Mexican leader not to tell the press that Mexico would not pay for the construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border.
The building of the wall was one of the major electoral promises of the US president. During his election campaign, Trump had said that Mexico would pay for the wall. Pena Nieto has repeatedly said that Mexico will not pay for the wall.
"You cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances," Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the transcripts.
In his conversation with the Australian Prime Minister, Trump is heard getting agitated on the refugee issue and eventually telling him that the call was the most irksome of the day.
Transcripts of both the conversations that happened on January 27 and 28 respectively.
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The White House called the leak a national security issue, saying it will prevent the president from being able to do what he does best, and negotiate with foreign leaders.
In a statement, The Washington Post said the transcripts were prepared by the White House but have not been released.
"The Post is publishing reproductions rather than original documents in order to protect sources. The reproductions below also include minor spelling and grammatical mistakes that appeared in the documents," it said.
In his conversation with Turnbull, Trump says that accepting the refuges will "make us look awfully bad".
"We have to stop. We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here. We have our San Bernardino's, we have had the World Trade Center come down because of people that should not have been in our country, and now we are supposed to take 2,000. It sends such a bad signal. You have no idea. It is such a bad thing," Trump is quoted as saying in the transcripts.
The conversation between the two leaders grew sour as Trump rejected an agreement to take refugees.
"I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day," Trump told Turnbull. "(Russian President Vladimir) Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous," said the US President, as he abruptly ends the call.