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

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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.”

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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