Old Audio Surfaces In Which Mick Mulvaney Calls Trump’s Border Wall ‘Absurd And Almost Childish,’ Then Admits That A Barrier Is ‘Necessary’

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney testifies before the Senate Budget Committee February 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Friday, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski dropped an audio file in which Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s incoming chief of staff, refers to the president’s ideas regarding border security as "absurd and almost childish."

The audio comes from an August 25, 2015 radio exchange with Patti Mercer.

MERCER: Donald Trump says build a wall; deport all illegal immigrants; rules are rules; you either play and stay, or you cheat and you get deported. What challenges does this plan pose?

MULVANEY: A bunch. I've never been in the boxcar caucus – you know, ship them home in boxcars and let the Lord sort them out. The fence is an easy thing to sell politically. It's an easy thing for someone who doesn't follow the issue very closely to say, "Well, that will just solve everything. Build a fence."

When you go out and you talked to the Texas ranchers. Which I've done, [Rep] Jeff Duncan has done, and ask them – these are the guys dealing with it every single day.

MERCER: Because we have a fence there –

MULVANEY: Yeah, we have a fence –

MERCER: And they're building tunnels.

MULVANEY: That's exactly the point. The fence doesn't solve the problem. Is it necessary to have one? Sure. Would it help? Sure. But to just say, "Build the darn fence," and have that be the end of an immigration discussion is absurd and almost childish for someone running for president to take that simplistic a view.

And by the way, the bottom line is the fence doesn't stop anybody who really wants to get across. You go under, you go around, you go through it. And that's what the ranchers tell us, is that they don't need a fence. What they need is more manpower, and more technology, and more willingness to enforce the law as it exists today. There are parts of our border that are secure and parts of our border that are not. A lot of that comes down to whether or not we are just willing to enforce the law as it exists. So it's easy to tell people what they want to hear, "Build the darn fence. Vote for me."

...It is pablum that politicians like to feed people in order to tell people what they want to hear as they're trying to get them to vote for them. It's hard to tell people that things are hard to fix, but building a fence is not going to be the be-all and end-all to our immigration problems.

Many media outlets appear to be focusing their headlines entirely on Mulvaney’s criticism of the president, while ignoring his admission that a "fence" or wall is "necessary."

Here are several headlines from mainstream outlets:

CNN: Mick Mulvaney in 2015: Trump's views on border wall 'simplistic,' 'absurd and almost childish'

TIME: Incoming Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney Once Called President Trump's Border Wall Plan 'Absurd'

Newsweek: TRUMP'S NEW CHIEF OF STAFF MICK MULVANEY DESCRIBED PRESIDENT'S WALL PLEDGE AS 'ABSURD' AND 'ALMOST CHILDISH'

HuffPo: Mick Mulvaney Once Called Trump’s Border Wall Pledge 'Absurd And Almost Childish'

Slate: Trump’s Incoming Chief of Staff Said in 2015 That Border Wall Was a "Childish" Idea That Wouldn’t Work

Mulvaney has indeed been critical of the president in the past, even calling him a "terrible human being" during a debate with a Democratic opponent on November 2, 2016:

Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I’m doing so despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being.

In a Facebook post several weeks prior to the debate, Mulvaney wrote: "I’ve decided that I don’t particularly like Donald Trump as a person. But I am still voting for him. And I am still asking other people to do the same. And there is one simple reason for that: Hillary Clinton."

Less than two months after Mulvaney’s remark, President Trump nominated the former congressman to head the Office of Management and Budget.

Despite Mulvaney’s criticisms of the president, and despite his rebuke of then-candidate Trump’s idea for a border wall, in the end, the former congressman did admit that such a barrier is "necessary" and that it would be helpful.

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