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President Trump Jabs Back At Outgoing Chief Of Staff John Kelly Over Wall Comments

By  Emily Zanotti

President Donald Trump jabbed back at outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Monday, insisting that he and others within the Trump administration had not abandoned the idea of a physical wall across the entirety of the United States’ southern border, even as Kelly insisted in an exit interview over the weekend that the “wall” was more of an complex deterrent system than a tangible barrier.

“An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media,” the president insisted in a morning tweet on the last day of 2018.

“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!” he continued.

He added that his campaign promise to the build the wall still stands and that his war with Democrats over a Congressional budget will yield the physical barrier that he mentioned in countless campaign speeches.

“I campaigned on Border Security, which you cannot have without a strong and powerful Wall. Our Southern Border has long been an ‘Open Wound,’ where drugs, criminals (including human traffickers) and illegals would pour into our Country. Dems should get back here an fix now!” the president tweeted.

Congress still has at least two days before it officially returns to work, and that Congress will look substantially different from the one that went into recess in late December right before the Christmas holiday. Beginning in early January, Democrats will have control of the House of Representatives and Rep. Nancy Pelosi will lead a majority rather than a minority, making it far less likely that Trump will get a good deal on the border wall in return for a long-term federal budget agreement.

But Trump’s comments don’t appear to be directed at Democrats unwilling to come to the bargaining table on immigration, but rather at his outgoing Chief of Staff, who will leave the White House officially on Wednesday. Over the weekend, Kelly told the Los Angeles Times, in a wide-ranging interview, that he did not believe Trump’s “wall” was still a physical barrier.

“The president still says ‘wall’ – oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats,” Kelly said. “But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”

But the president may have jumped on an innocuous comment. Rather than criticizing the administration’s approach to a wall, Kelly insisted that Trump and others were thinking critically about security along the southern border and had consulted with the Customs and Border Protection agents on how best to approach a “border wall” construction project.

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