Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Monday pushed back on President Donald Trump’s claim that the Mexican leader called him to praise U.S. border policy.
Trump on Monday praised newly minted White House chief of staff John Kelly for his work at the Department of Homeland Security.
“The border was a tremendous problem and they’re close to 80 percent stoppage. And even the President of Mexico called me,” Trump claimed. “They said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment.”
In a statement to the Telegraph newspaper, Peña Nieto’s office said the Mexican president “has not recently communicated with President Donald Trump by phone” and last spoke to him at the G20 summit in July.
The two leaders have had a tense relationship since Trump’s campaign, when Peña Nieto blamed the then-candidate for his treasury secretary’s resignation. Former Mexican official Luis Videgaray played an important role in arranging Trump’s visit to Mexico in August 2016, and subsequently stepped down.
Days after his inauguration in January, Trump threatened to cancel a planned meeting with Peña Nieto after the Mexican president refused, not for the first time, to pay for Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Peña Nieto preempted him later the same day by pulling out of the meeting first.
Trump played down the awkwardness between the U.S. and its southern neighbor the next day, claiming that he and Peña Nieto had “a very good call” and shared “really, I think, a very good relationship.”
Less than a week later, he threatened to send U.S. troops into Mexico to “take care” of “bad hombres down there.”