Numerous media outlets reported Wednesday that White House chief of staff John Kelly told lawmakers that President Donald Trump’s campaign position on the wall was “uninformed” and that Trump was open to more flexible options for border security.
Kelly underlined those reports by appearing on Fox News on Wednesday night and declaring that Trump “has evolved in the way he’s looked at things” with regard to the wall.
Kelly went on to elaborate: “Campaign to governing are two different things, and this president has been very, very flexible in terms of what is within the realms of the possible.”
However, Kelly may not have consulted with Trump before making those remarks. Trump took to Twitter early Thursday morning to clarify that his position on the wall has not changed and that he still expects Mexico to pay for it:
Although the media have treated any deviation from a border wall that stretches from sea to shining sea as a flip-flop on Trump’s part, Trump indicated even relatively early on in his campaign that natural barriers would render the wall unnecessary on some parts of the southern border.
As early as December 2015, Trump indicated that “natural barriers” would mean that the wall would only have to span about 1,000 of the 2,000 miles on the southern border.
In a February 2016 interview with MSNBC, Trump said, “What we’re doing is we have 2,000 miles, right? 2,000 miles… Of the 2,000, we don’t need 2,000, we need 1,000 because we have natural barriers.”
Trump referred to these “natural barriers” on the stump repeatedly, and after he was elected, he remained consistent, telling Sean Hannity in a December 2016 interview that “there are certain places you don’t need a wall, because you have, you know, you have mountains, you have other things. You have large and rather vicious rivers.”
Whether you think the border wall is a good idea or not, Trump has been consistent in his position from day one that the wall would not stretch from sea to sea, even though the media treat each time he says it as a flip-flop.
It remains an open question whether the wall will actually be built, as well as what form it will take and whether Mexico will actually pay for it. But Trump’s stated desires about the wall appear to have been consistent.