Left-wing media outlets are already spinning news of a tentative border deal as a major loss for President Donald Trump, but one aspect of the coverage has been particularly inaccurate.
But Trump hasn’t been solely committed to a concrete wall for some time, and has accepted border patrol officials telling him that a steel slat wall that they can see through is preferable.
In late December, outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said in an interview that Trump had abandoned “a solid concrete wall early on in the administration.”
“The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats,” Kelly said in the interview with the Los Angeles Times. “But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”
Kelly went on to say there was more to Trump’s border security plan than the wall.
"To be honest, it's not a wall," he said. Trump had conversations with law enforcement and border patrol officials, and wanted more technology and “steel slat” barriers along the wall.
Trump responded to his outgoing chief of staff the next day, tweeting he never dropped the idea of a concrete wall.
“An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media," Trump tweeted. "Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through. (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!"
So, at this point, Trump was suggesting that parts of the wall would be steel slats, like border patrol desired.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told “Fox News Sunday” that the contradiction amounted to “a silly semantic argument.”
"There may be a wall in some places, there may be steel slats, there may be technological enhancements," she said. ''But only saying 'wall or no wall' is being very disingenuous and turning a complete blind eye to what is a crisis at the border."
USA Today detailed Trump’s shifting demands for the wall, from his original desire for a concrete wall to the more nuanced position he holds now.
Late Monday, Democrats and Republicans reached a tentative deal that would give Trump some of what he wanted for border security. That deal includes $1.375 billion for a see-through wall covering 55 miles (Trump has publicly said he wanted a wall to cover 200 miles, but his last budget request only asked for money to cover 64 miles) and $1.7 billion in additional funding to the Department of Homeland Security for new border security, including new technological enhancements and more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
Trump’s original $5.7 billion ask wasn’t just for a physical barrier, DHS officials told Fox News in December. The amount was for a “wall system” that included replacing “dilapidated” fencing, building new walls, adding roads and lights for Border Patrol agents and sensor technology.
In fairness to the media, Trump does refer to the entire system of border security as a “wall,” when its more nuanced than that.