The White House said President Trump's Thursday morning tweets were not meant to undercut his chief of staff, and don't indicate any tension between the two men.
Trump declared on Twitter Thursday morning that his border wall proposal "has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it."
"It was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water," the president added.
Those comments contradict what Trump's chief of staff John Kelly had suggested during a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus a day earlier. As a result, Kelly's comments to CHC members and a subsequent appearance on Fox News prompted an anonymous friend of the president's to tell Axios that Trump's chief of staff had "ventured into Steve Bannon territory."
"[He is] trying to create the perception that he's the 'great manipulator,' saving the country from Trump's ignorance," the person said. "The difference is, Steve tried to develop that reputation in off-the-record conversations with reporters. Kelly did it openly on the country's most-watched cable network."
But deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah told reporters that Trump had no qualms about Kelly's comments to Democrats or his interview on Fox News.
"His only frustration is with the media and that's what that tweet was about," Shah said. "They have a great relationship and that continues."
Shah added that Trump felt reporters took "the chief's comments out of context" in their coverage of his interview and meeting on Capitol Hill.
The growing confusion over what kind of border wall Trump wants to construct comes as the White House seeks $18 billion in border security funding from Congress as part of an immigration reform package that is still being negotiated.