President Donald Trump defended his repeated claims that Mexico will pay for a wall along the border — just not directly.
The president told reporters on Thursday before leaving for a visit to the Texas border that he "never said they were going to write out a check" and would pay for it indirectly "many, many times over."
Trump has argued repeatedly that Mexico is footing the bill even while insisting on $5.6 billion from the U.S. treasury to go toward wall construction. His demand and the refusal of Democrats to satisfy it are behind the budget standoff that has closed parts of the government.
Most recently, Trump said that the wall would be funded through the United States' new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
"The new trade deal we have with Mexico and Canada — what we save on that, just with Mexico, will pay for the wall many times over, just in a period of a year, two years or three years. So I view that as absolutely Mexico is paying for the wall," Trump said.
But the Associated Press reported that nothing in the trade agreement would cover or refund the construction cost.
The trade deal updates the North American Free Trade Agreement, in the main preserving NAFTA's liberalized environment of low or no tariffs among the U.S., Mexico and Canada, while making certain improvements for each country. Trump stated inaccurately that it's "brand new. It's totally different."
The deal also isn't in effect yet. It still has to be voted on and ratified by Congress, and its chances of winning legislative approval are not assured.