“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Kelly told the Times, and then added:
“The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”
The former Marine general also admitted that Customs and Border Protection Agents told him during his tenure as Homeland Security secretary that they really don’t want a wall. They said they do need physical barriers in some areas, but expressed a desire for new technology and additional personnel as a primary emphasis for improved border security.
According to the Times Kelly did not directly answer when asked if Trump had been using fear of illegal immigrants as a political issue. Kelly said that the country has an “immigration problem,” and put the burden on Congress to address the issues.
Trump’s rigid demand for “a wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border has resulted in a partial government shutdown that has lasted more than a week. He continues to demand $5 billion in funding for the structure, but congressional Democratic leaders have repeatedly said he will never get that amount of money for a project that won’t improve border security.
Trump has recently been changing his language that he uses to describe the wall, attempting to argue that the structure could be called “fencing,” and that it would be “artistically designed” steel slats instead of concrete.
Kelly will soon leave his White House chief of staff position after 17 months. He previously admitted that some of Trump’s views on immigration, including his campaign promise to build a border wall were “uninformed.”
In the interview, Kelly also blamed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the policy that led to border separations of thousands of migrant families last spring. He told the Times:
“What happened was Jeff Sessions, he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border that resulted in both people being detained and the family separation. He surprised us.”
This new interview by John Kelly is very interesting because it reveals inside information from the White House that was not previously made public. As interesting as it is, though, it may still be only a small preview of what is to come.
After he leaves office there is no doubt that John Kelly will have many more interesting things to reveal about the inner workings of the Donald Trump White House. He may even be called as a witness to help Robert Mueller make a case against the president for criminal obstruction of justice.