President Donald Trump’s months of pressure on behalf of a star Fox News guest has finally paid off: The Pentagon has awarded the talking head’s construction company a $400 million border wall construction project.
The Defense Department announced Monday that Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. had been awarded the job to design and build a wall along the southern edge of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. Two months ago, the Interior Department announced that it was transferring 230 acres of public land along the edge of Cabeza Prieta for Trump’s desired border wall.
The company’s previous bids for government contracts didn’t meet government standards, the Washington Post reported. And a binational commission has asked the group to halt construction on its latest project, a wall along a section of the banks of the Rio Grande, over hydrology concerns.
For months, Trump repeatedly and aggressively pushed DHS and the Army Corps of Engineers for Fisher to get a wall contract, the Post reported in May. He complained about the slow progress of existing wall construction in phone calls, White House meetings and Air Force One conversations with DHS and Army Corps officials, multiple sources told the Post.
In one instance described to the paper, Trump “immediately” brought up Fisher after summoning the chief engineer of the Army Corps, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, to the White House.
“He always brings them up,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said of Trump’s affinity for Fisher.
“He said these other guys were full of shit,” an unnamed official told the Post.
Fisher, who portrays himself as a straight-talking businessman during his Fox appearances, has made an impression on right-wing media personalities.
“The President, if he allows our team of Fisher Industries to play, I guarantee it, no different than Tom Brady: Once we get in, we never come out,” Fisher recited in a March interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. “And if we don’t perform, the President can fire us. That’s how comfortable and confident I am, is when people see what I really offer.”
“I love it!” Ingraham responded. “Not taking sides on which prototype is best, but this is why you’re a good businessman.”
No contract appeared for the company, so Fisher went elsewhere on the border — to a GoFundMe-powered private wall project called “We Build The Wall.”
Fisher and We Build The Wall, which has raised millions from donors online and counts Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach as advisers, built its first small wall segment just outside of El Paso over the summer.
The project was temporarily stopped by the local government in Sunland Park, New Mexico over an incomplete permit application, but the hold was lifted after WBTW founder Brian Kolfage urged supporters to bombard city officials with phone calls. The project was also swarmed with right-wing militia members, one of whom was later charged with impersonating a Border Patrol agent and fraudulently collecting money for a cancer-stricken child.
The wall project, despite it’s hiccups, won Fisher the notice of the first family — Donald Trump Jr. visited the construction site. And just recently, the new leadership at the Department of Homeland Security visited Sunland Park to add their stamp of approval.
“When that wall got built, everything changed for us,” El Paso Border Patrol sector chief Gloria Chavez said at a press conference last week, with the latest acting DHS secretary, Chad Wolf, standing beside her.
Another recent project along the Rio Grande — the one that was halted over hydrology concerns — is also a partnership between Fisher and We Build The Wall.
The Post noted that the hydrology report that Fisher submitted for that project to the International Boundary and Water Commission — the binational commission that ultimately asked for construction to be delayed — consisted of six pages of depictions of the river that looked to be produced on basic paint-and-draw software.
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