Builder of private border wall Trump says he opposed got $1.7B in federal wall contracts: report

A private company that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE targeted for criticism over its efforts to construct a barrier near the U.S.-Mexico border reportedly received $1.7 billion in federal wall contracts after lobbying the president personally on cable news.

The Texas Tribune reported Monday that Fisher Sand and Gravel received $1.7 billion from the Defense Department and the Army Corps of Engineers for what has resulted in a stretch of about three miles of border fencing near the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona.

Originally, the company indicated that it planned to construct more than 30 miles of border fencing, but the project has become mired in legal battles as government attorneys warn that the structure is endangered by recent erosion, the news outlet noted.

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Trump blasted the company in a tweet Sunday morning, claiming that the project was undertaken to "make me look bad" and indicating that it never had his support.

"I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads. It was only done to make me look bad, and perhsps it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles," the president tweeted.

The Washington Post reported earlier this year, however, that Trump himself supported the project and inquired personally about the company's bid for funding after witnessing CEO Tommy Fisher's media appearances on Fox News and other cable news networks, during which time the company official claimed that the fencing could be completed quickly and for low cost.

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Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee and has called for an audit of the project, told the Tribune in an email that the president wasn't being truthful about his efforts to support Fisher Sand and Gravel.

"The President isn’t telling the truth again. The Administration has awarded huge contracts to the same company, which is under Federal investigation, that built this fence,” said Thompson. “His Administration has also entertained outsourcing to private firms to get more mileage done before the election at the expense of proper oversight. There is no reason for construction to continue during a pandemic."

Ryan Patrick, a U.S. attorney with the southern district of Texas who initiated the federal government's lawsuit against Fisher, also took aim at the project in a lengthy Twitter thread accusing the project of not making tactical sense and calling it an expensive vanity project.

"What they built is one step beyond vaporware. We said it was too close to the water, erosion would be an issue, the location made no sense, etc. Now we risk the thing falling down in a big storm/flood," he tweeted.

"Tactically the fence makes no sense. There was no way to easily get a truck or mowers on the river side of the fence once the erosion started. If stuff starts growing on the bank and ruins visibility now what?" Patrick added.