President Trump on Wednesday dismissed a report in The Washington Post that claimed he promised aides he would pardon them should they need to break the law in order to fast-track construction of the border wall before the 2020 Election Day.
“Another totally Fake story in the Amazon Washington Post (lobbyist) which states that if my Aides broke the law to build the Wall (which is going up rapidly), I would give them a Pardon,” Trump said on Twitter Wednesday. “This was made up by the Washington Post only in order to demean and disparage – FAKE NEWS!”
Trump later tweeted that The Washington Post and CNN falsely reported that he didn't think a wall along the southern border was important to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump encouraged aides during weekly meetings to extradite billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules to complete 500 miles worth of border wall first promised to voters in 2016.
Citing anonymous current and former White House officials, the Post reported Trump said he would pardon aides should they need to break the law in order to complete the project. One unnamed official said the president was joking when he suggested pardons.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives—which had been investigating Trump for obstruction of justice— is to decide whether or not to launch impeachment hearings when it reconvenes from summer recess next month.
Two Democratic presidential candidates– Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Beto O’Rourke—both tweeted a link to The Washington Post story Wednesday, writing that the report proved a need to impeach Trump given the president viewed himself as above the law.
“Donald Trump is dangling pardons for subordinates who would break the law to build his vanity project on the southern border,” Harris said on Twitter. “Let's be honest here: Trump is a lawless president.”
O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman and former mayor of the border town of El Paso, echoed Harris’ sentiment and noted the findings in the report showed the consequences of failing to impeach Trump.
“We can't become numb to these stories: Trump has promised to pardon government workers who break the law to build a wall we don't need,” O-Rourke wrote. “This is the consequence of failing to impeach him: He believes he's above the law—and he'll keep acting like it, until we hold him accountable.”
Also Wednesday, Trump tweeted drone video of a stretch of barriers along the southern border, writing that the wall is “going up very fast” despite “total obstruction” by Democrats in Congress.
The Post reported that only 60 miles of barrier to replace current fencing along the southern border has been built during the first 2.5 years of Trump’s first term—which is only about one-tenth of the 500 miles of border wall first promised to voters. The White House requested $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to be used in barrier projects after Congress refused to allocate $5 billion for the job, according to the Post.