Trump Supported the Private Border Wall at the Center of a Fraud Case, a Close Ally Said

He’s since distanced himself from the project.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), left, and Brian Kolfage, the head of We Build the Wall, overlook the privately funded fence along the US-Mexico border in Sunland Park, New Mexico, last year.Joel Angel Juarez/ZUMA

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

In January 2019, Kris Kobach told the New York Times that President Trump had given his blessing to an effort to build a private wall along the border with Mexico. The organizers of the project are now facing federal fraud charges.

Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state and prominent Trump supporter, was serving as an adviser to “We Build the Wall,” the group that raised more than $25 million to build the wall. “I talked with the president, and the ‘We Build the Wall Effort’ came up,” Kobach told the Times. “The president said ‘the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.’”

On Thursday, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and three others involved with “We Build the Wall” with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendants allegedly pocketed more than a million dollars of donations, despite repeated assurances to donors that all the money would go construction.

Trump tweeted last month that he disagreed with the plan to build a private section of wall:

There isn’t evidence that Trump knew about the alleged fraud, and he is continuing to distance himself from the project. “I feel very badly,” Trump said in the Oval Office on Thursday. “I haven’t been dealing with [Bannon] for a very long period of time…I don’t know anything about the project at all…I don’t like that project. I thought it was being done for showboating reasons.”

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate