White House press secretary Sean Spicer answered questions during Tuesday’s media briefing about President Trump’s sudden willingness to delay funding for his proposed wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Except Spicer refused to acknowledge the delay is really a delay. No matter how hard reporters pushed, Spicer insisted that nothing had changed.
We have annotated Spicer’s exchange with journalists, using Genius. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.
Q: I do want to ask you really quickly about the wall. Yesterday, President Trump reportedly said he is going to delay pushing the wall through.
SPICER: He did not.
Q: And so can you just clarify what the status of that is? Is it happening? When?
SPICER: Yeah, yeah. Thank you. The president made it very clear — I think he tweeted about this earlier — his priorities have not changed. There will be a wall built. It’s important to prevent human trafficking, gangs like MS-13 from coming into the country, the flow of illegal drugs, illegal immigration. There is a national and economic safety issue by having a wall that ensures our country’s safety, and there’s plenty of planning that can be done in FY17.
We are going to continue — our priorities are clear, going into FY17, the remainder of budgeting for that, and we’ll continue to ask for more in FY18.
Q: So, it’s delayed for now until it’s —
SPICER: No, I didn’t — no, no, no, no. I never — no one said delayed. No, no. There’s a sea of — no, no, there’s two budget processes: Right now, we’re going to end FY17 this week. We’re hoping to continue to get funding in that, as the president laid out, for both border security and Homeland Security and national defense, as we’ve always maintained. And then when we come to FY15 — excuse me, FY18 that starts at the end of Sept — or beginning of October, end of September, in that next budget we’ll go for the next group of money. But —
Q: So you expect partial funding?
SPICER: I, I think we’re going to make — we’ve made our priorities very clear, as we continue to negotiate, and I think nothing has changed on the president’s priorities.
Q: On the wall, just want to be clear: Is the president no longer insisting that there is money for the wall in this current appropriations bill?
SPICER: The president’s priorities are clear for FY17. There’s a lot of things we can do in FY — in the remaining months, up until the end of September, for planning and making sure that we get everything that we need — funding that we need for that aspect of things, and then as we go into FY18, we’ll continue to ask for more. I don’t think anything has changed.
Q: So, the president is not insisting that he has money for the actual construction of the wall?
SPICER: Look, we’re going to — I’m not going to get — there are — we’re still in discussions with the House and Senate leadership, but I think the president’s been very clear that he wants a wall. He wants it done as soon as we can do it. He has — there are things that we need to do to protect our country, like human trafficking, the flow of illegal drugs and gangs, that are going to make sure that while we’ve achieved a significant drop in illegal alien border crossings — down 61 percent since January — this is something that’s in our country’s long-term national security interest.
Q: The actual construction can wait until the fall.
SPICER: No, that’s — it’s not a question of wait until the fall. I think there’s a lot of things that have to happen. It’s like any construction. Well, you’ve got to start doing some planning and things. And, so, we will take the first steps now and then we will continue to seek funding through the FY18 and further budgets to make sure that the actual — it is completed.