At Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Breitbart reporter Charlie Spiering got into a tense exchange with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Spiering later penned a critical article. We have annotated the back-and-forth, using Genius. To see an annotation, click the yellow, highlighted text. To add your own, sign up for an account.
SPIERING: In January, the president did an interview deriding the "little toy walls" along the Southern border — that’s a quote — and said "I don’t know why they even wasted their time." Why is the government focusing so much on existing border security measures, rather than fighting for the wall that he promised that he’d build?
SPICER: Thank you for an opportunity to show you some things. So, I could get the first image up. You knew this — you asked.
Q: Did you guys (inaudible)?
SPICER: No. But you literally could not have helped me out [more]. This is what exists right now throughout our country. This is the kind of barrier that exists throughout the country. You see, uh, a place where cars can create little things and drive over.
You’ve got places that can get burrowed under.
That one, they’ve cut though.
That one doesn’t seem to be too effective at keeping people in it.
This is what — those images represent our nation’s current border security. According to a GAO report from earlier this year, from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2015, the Customs and Border Patrol recorded a total of two thousand — excuse me, 9,287 breaches in pedestrian fencing, at an average cost of $784 dollars per breach to repair.
Right? So every time that they cut through, break through, put something over, it’s costing just under a thousand bucks to — for us to go out and have to fix.
Now to the next slide. You had no idea you were getting this, did you?
Um, so, the bill that is about to get passed, Title 6, which pertains to the Department of Homeland Security’s funding on additional appropriation, states that an additional $497.4 million, quote, “for procurement, construction and improvements.” Of that total, $341.2 million are to, quote — and this is literally what it says in the bill — “to replace approximately 40 miles of existing primary pedestrian and vehicle border fencing along the Southwest border using previously deployed and operationally effective designs, such as currently deployed steel bollard designs, that prioritize agent safety.”
So, that’s your answer, Charlie. Hold on. So, so, hold on, hold on. Let me just — we have, we have a porous border right now with broken fences, things that can be cut through, places that just literally be driven over. And to replace this with 20-foot-high bollard wall will protect our country. Something that the DHS has designated the most effective way to do this. So, that’s what we got out of this bill.
SPIERING: Just one question about the photos: Are those photos of fences or walls?
SPICER: That is called a bollard wall; that is called a levee wall.
SPIERING: So that’s the wall that the president promised?
SPICER: No, no, no. I just — no, no. There are various types of walls that can be built. Under the legislation that was just passed, it allows us to do that. As we’ve mentioned …
SPIERING: It’s a fence.
SPICER: That is called a levee wall on the left; that is called a bollard wall.
SPIERING: A levee wall? So that’s not a wall. It’s levee wall?
SPICER: That’s what it’s actually called. That’s the name of it.
SPIERING: … fencing, not a wall.
SPICER: No, no. In this current bill, it allows us to do the following. So, to be clear, in several areas along our Southern border, we have a — we have what was in the first slide, which are areas where someone can literally cut through with a pair of wire cutters or put a little barrier over that a car can drive over the top.
Okay? What we’ve done is taken the tools that we have to replace — and if you look at that one in particular, you’ve got a chain-link fence is what is currently at our Southern border. That is literally down there now. We are able to go in there, and instead of having a chain-link fence, replace it with that bollard wall. That — that’s what it is.
SPIERING: So, it’s not the wall the president promised.
SPICER: That — no, no, hold on. Hold on, Jim. I’m going to take turns. But just to be clear, ’cause Charlie asked the same thing, so I’ll give you a little help on this one, that this is the 2017 budget. The president—this is a down payment on what the president is going to prioritize in the 2018 budget that starts on Oct. 1.
And, as I mentioned to John Roberts, the idea that we even got a shot at this is something that should have been done last term, under President Obama. We have an opportunity to use the last five months of the FY17 budget to get the president’s priorities jump started. So, he is using the current bill to get his priorities moving and put it down.
To answer the question: It is currently being built in Naco, Ariz., Sunland Park, N.M., and we are going to be starting to do this in San Diego, El Paso and Rio Grande Valley.
SPIERING: You’re basically telling supporters — the president’s supporters — to be satisfied with this existing, tough-guy fencing until he’s ready to build the wall.
SPICER: No, what I am telling anybody is that the president said he was going to build a wall, and he is doing it. He’s using the best technology and what the Department of Homeland Security, under Secretary John Kelly, says is the most effective way to keep people out, to stop drugs, to stop cartels, to stop human trafficking and to prevent illegal immigration. That’s what I’m telling you.