GOP senator denies Trump misled voters over wall funding

GOP Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) on Thursday denied that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHoward Schultz advisers exploring possible 2020 independent bid: report Special counsel issues rare statement disputing explosive Cohen report Salvation Army offers to cover furloughed federal workers' electric, gas bills in Virginia MORE misled voters about who would pay for a southern border wall shortly after Trump said he "never meant [Mexico is] going to write out a check" for the barrier.

On CNN, Kennedy accused Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.) of “allowing her distaste for the president to interfere with resolving the shutdown,” which entered its 20th day Thursday amid a sharp partisan dispute over border wall funding.


CNN host Poppy Harlow pressed Kennedy on Trump’s regular claims during the presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for the border wall, which Kennedy acknowledged he had heard.

Kennedy insisted those comments were “not relevant” to the discussion about the shutdown.

“Of course it is relevant to the discussion,” Harlow shot back. “Either you tell the American people the truth about more than $5 billion or you don’t. Has he misled the American people or has he been honest with them?”

“Poppy, I understand your point, I just don’t agree with it. I just don’t think it is relevant to this discussion,” Kennedy responded. “The only real relevant issue to this if you strip away the politics and the personalities and the dislike for each other is: can you seal a 1,900-mile border without using in part a wall or a physical barrier?”

In recent weeks and months, Trump has said that the way Mexico will ultimately cover the costs of the wall is through a renegotiated trade deal, statements that have met with skepticism from Democrats.

“When during the campaign, I would say 'Mexico is going to pay for it.' Obviously, I never said this and I never meant they are going to write out a check,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “I said they are going to pay for it.” 

CNN played a clip of White House aide Mercedes Schlapp acknowledging on Wednesday that taxpayers would ultimately pay for the wall.