After Trump’s Shutdown Threat, Sanders Dodges Border Wall Funding Questions

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A White House spokesperson on Thursday dodged questions about whether President Donald Trump still planned to force Mexico to pay for a wall on the southern border after Trump said he’d force a government shutdown if the U.S. Congress didn’t provide funding for the wall in a must-pass spending bill.

A reporter asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders why Trump was threatening to shut down the government if Congress didn’t fund the wall’s construction, given that he had campaigned for months, and affirmed as President, that Mexico would pay for it.

“The President’s committed to making sure this gets done,” Sanders said, not answering the question directly. “We’re going to continue to push forward and make sure that the wall gets built.”

“Why is he threatening a shutdown over paying for it?” the reporter pressed. “I mean, again, he said over and over again—you talked about the campaign—over and over again, he said Mexico’s going to pay for the wall. He asked people—crowds chanted back at him, Mexico’s going to pay for it and now he’s threatening a shutdown of the government.”

“Once again, the President’s committed to making sure this happens and we’re going to push forward,” Sanders said before moving on.

Trump, who campaigned on forcing Mexico to pay for the wall one way or another, said at a campaign rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona that “if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.” The threat was aimed at Democrats who have pledged to vote against funding a border wall.

In response to a reporter’s question later in the briefing, Sanders said “I don’t think he’s abandoning it,” referring to Trump’s demand that Mexico pay for the wall.

“He’s not saying that Mexico is going to pay for it,” another reporter asserted in a separate exchange.

“He hasn’t said they’re not, either,” Sanders replied.

According to a leaked transcript of a phone call between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, published by the Washington Post earlier this month, Trump told Peña Nieto that whether American taxpayers or Mexicans paid for the wall was “the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important to talk about.”

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