President Trump on Thursday said he may be open to using trade negotiations to force Mexico to pay for a wall along the Southwest border, a campaign promise he was accused of abandoning earlier this month after he requested $18 billion from Congress to fund the massive project.
"I've always said we have to have a wall. I've also said Mexico's got to pay for it. Well, they will pay for it. There are many forms of payment, I could name 10 right now," Trump told the Wall Street Journal when asked during an interview how he plans to force the United States' southern neighbor to pay for a border wall.
The president suggested that Mexico could "indirectly" pay for the wall through the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is administration has threatened to terminate altogether if renegotiations prove unsuccessful.
"You know, we make a good deal on NAFTA, say I'm going to take a small percentage of that money and it's going to go toward the wall. Guess what? Mexico's paying," Trump mused.
Trump's comments came on the heels of a briefing with senior administration officials about the status of negotiating the multilateral trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Canadian officials have disputed recent reports that Trump is planning to withdraw from the agreement.
"Progress on NAFTA was made during previous rounds and the December intercessional and we expect more progress to be made in January," a Canadian official told The Hill on Wednesday.
Trump has floated other ways of forcing Mexico to pay for a wall along the Southern border, one being a 2 percent remittance tax on person-to-person transfers from the U.S. to Mexico and various parts of Latin America.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a breakdown last week, claiming the administration's $18 billion request would pay for 316 miles of new fencing and 407 miles of improved fencing along the 2,000-mile border over the next 10 years.