U.S. President Donald Trump asked Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to stop saying he wouldn't fund Trump's border wall in their first phone conversation.
The two leaders' Jan. 27 conversation, which has been released by The Washington Post, took on a different tone from Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail, where he insisted Mexico would pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the call, Trump told Nieto, "you cannot say that to the press," referring to the Mexican leader's stance that he would not provide funding for the wall.
"The only thing I will ask you though is on the wall, you and I both have a political problem. My people stand up and say, 'Mexico will pay for the wall,' and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language," said the president during the call.
"But 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," Trump added. "I have been talking about it for a two year period, and the reason I say they are going to pay for the wall is because Mexico has made a fortune out of the stupidity of U.S. trade representatives. They are beating us at trade and they are beating us at the border, and they are killing us with drugs."
He said that the two of them should say that they would "work it out," rather than both saying they wouldn't pay for it. Trump added that the funding would "work out in the formula somehow," and "come out in the wash."
"They are going to say, 'Who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?' to both of us, and we should both say, 'We will work it out,'" Trump suggested. "It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, 'We will not pay' and me saying, 'We will not pay.'"
"We cannot say that anymore because if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that," Trump added.
"You have a very big mark on our back, Mr. President, regarding who pays for the wall," said Pena Nieto. "This is what I suggest, Mr. President -- let us stop talking about the wall. I have recognized the right of any government to protect its borders as it deems necessary and convenient. But my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall."
Trump has also requested federal funding for the wall's construction. The House has approved a down payment of $1.6 billion, but the Senate may not approve the funding, according to CNBC.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said that while Trump was being briefed on the progress of the border wall, his suggestions would not affect the wall's design, according to The Washington Times.
"The president, while he has been and continues to be briefed on the wall writ large -- the progress, sort of how we are doing in fulfilling his order to secure the border -- the prototype process is in the federal procurement process, and the president is not involved in that at all," said Homeland Security Deputy Assistant Secretary David Lapan.
"He's not been briefed on any of the specifics" of the prototypes, Lapan added, but said the president was interested and often asked for updates on the project's status.