Fact check: Trump's false claim on Mexico's payment for a portion of the border wall

Fact check: Trump's false claim on Mexico's payment for a portion of the border wall

Former President Trump's revisionist speech in Iowa falsely asserts that he campaigned in 2016 promising Mexico's payment for a portion of the border wall This claim contradicts the historical record and highlights attempts to distort facts

In a speech in Iowa on Sunday, former President Donald Trump made false claims, attempting to rewrite history by stating that he campaigned for the presidency in 2016 on a promise that Mexico would fund a portion of his border wall. Trump, who is currently seeking the Republican presidential nomination once again, has faced criticism from rival candidates such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for failing to fulfill his signature campaign promise of making Mexico pay for the wall. The costs for the construction of the wall were ultimately covered by American taxpayers, as the Trump administration allocated over $16 billion in federal funds towards the project.

During a Sunday speech in Iowa, Trump claimed that he had received a larger sum of money than what Mexico had paid for the wall. He justified this by pointing out that Mexico had agreed to send thousands of troops to help prevent migrants from entering the US. However, when criticizing his detractors, Trump made incorrect statements about his pre-presidential promises regarding the funding of the wall. Trump stated, "So, for all those individuals who claim that Trump never received... Do you remember when I used to say that Mexico would cover the cost of a portion of the wall?"

He continued, "I'll say, What's going to happen if they [Mexico] fight? I say, The wall gets higher. We all had a lot of fun. But I said, Mexico will pay for a piece of the wall. Well, there was no legal instrument to do that."

Facts First: Trump's claim is false. Throughout his 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly promised, without any conditions, that Mexico would fully pay for the wall.

during the 2016 election was that Mexico would pay for "a piece" of the wall. However, when CNN reached out to a Trump campaign spokesperson on Sunday requesting examples of such pledges, no response was received. In addition, after conducting a search of Factba.se, the most extensive public database of Trump's statements from the 2016 election, CNN found no instances of him making this specific claim.

During his passionate campaign rallies in 2015 and 2016, Trump consistently vowed that Mexico would fully fund the wall. This promise would often elicit call-and-response interactions, where Trump proclaimed his intention to construct the wall and asked the audience who would foot the bill. The crowd would enthusiastically respond with "Mexico!" and Trump would confirm their answer.

"In all certainty, we will construct the wall. And who will bear the cost?" Trump questioned during a rally speech in Michigan in March 2016. Following the resounding reply of "Mexico," Trump firmly declared, "One hundred percent, ladies and gentlemen. I don't mean 99.2%, but exactly 100%." He scoffed at those who doubted his ability to secure Mexico's payment, reiterating, "I said 100% - not 99%. I said 100%."

Trump made similar statements at multiple events throughout the Republican presidential primary in 2015 and early 2016, as well as during the general election later in 2016.

For instance, during a speech in Massachusetts in November 2015, he declared, "We will construct the wall. It will be an exceptional wall, and its funding will come from Mexico. Trust me - 100%, without a doubt. We will not be funding it. Mexico will." He also reiterated this stance during a speech in Florida in August 2016, proclaiming, "We will build the wall, and Mexico will fully finance it."

Trump's rhetoric on the reimbursement of the wall underwent a shift during the campaign. He initially stated that Mexico would fully reimburse the US for the wall. In October 2016, during a speech in Pennsylvania, he reaffirmed this, stating that Mexico would cover the entire cost. Trump has since made false claims regarding the funding of the wall in response to criticism. In early 2020, he falsely asserted that funds from undocumented immigrants were being used, and later claimed that a "border tax" would contribute, both of which were unfounded.