3 former presidents deny praising Trump’s zeal to build border wall
President Donald Trump said Friday that a former president had commended him for his commitment to securing funds to build a wall along the nation’s southern border.
However, three of the four living former presidents have denied telling Trump they wished they had built the wall, and the other has strongly opposed the idea in public remarks.
In a news conference Friday, Trump suggested that at least one prior commander in chief had agreed with his desire to build a wall.
“This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me,” Trump said. “And they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it.”
But his predecessors have denied such a conversation.
Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former president, said Monday that it wasn’t him.
“I have not discussed the border wall with President Trump, and do not support him on the issue,” Carter said in a statement tweeted by The Carter Center on Monday afternoon.
Freddy Ford, a spokesman for former President George W. Bush, told CNN that “they haven’t discussed this.”
Former President Bill Clinton spokesman Angel Urena said Clinton “never said that,” adding that “they’ve not talked since inauguration.”
The only living former president yet to go on record denying that he praised Trump for trying to build the wall is Trump’s immediate predecessor, Barack Obama.
However, it’s extremely unlikely that Obama privately praised Trump’s attempts to fund the border wall, given that Obama has fervently opposed the notion of a border wall in public remarks since Trump began promoting the idea on the campaign trail.
“A nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself,” Obama told the assembled representatives of the UN’s member states in September 2016.
In a commencement address at Rutgers University in May 2016, Obama blasted the idea and said a wall was antithetical to America’s history of attracting and growing from “strivers.”
“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 to a cheering crowd.
Obama’s representatives didn’t respond to CNN last week when asked if he was the former president who had spoken with Trump and praised the wall. CNN reached out to Obama’s representatives again Monday.