On the Morning Joe program on MSNBC Wednesday March 9, Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward grilled Donald Trump on how he plans to obtain funding for the multi-billion dollar wall he wants to build on the U.S.-Mexico border. Woodward asked the Republican presidential candidate if he was willing to go to war with Mexico to pay for the wall. Here is the transcript of the Woodward-Trump exchange, via MSNBC:
WOODWARD: I want to ask about the wall you’re going to get Mexico to build. We were talking about this earlier and a number of my colleagues here say you really haven’t answered the question how you’re going to do that. And you know from business somebody can have a good idea but how are they going to do it? And can you give us some idea?
TRUMP: Okay. Great question, Bob. Sure. Okay. Look, the wall. First of all, Mexico is not going to build it, we’re going to build it. And it’s going to be a serious wall. It’s not going to be a toy wall like we have right now where cars and trucks drive over it loaded up with drugs and they sell the drugs in our country and then they go back and, you know, we get the drugs, they get the cash, okay, and that’s not going to happen.
WOODWARD: Right. How are you going to get them to pay for it?
TRUMP: We’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay. And the reason they’re going to pay and the way they’re going to pay, Bob, is this. We have a trade deficit now with Mexico of $58 billion a year. The wall is going to cost $10 billion a year. That’s what it’s going to cost. It’s going to be a powerful wall. It’s going to cost $10 billion. Now —
WOODWARD: But they’re a sovereign nation.
TRUMP: When you’re losing — or essentially losing — but when you’re losing $58 billion a year on trade — in addition to that we give subsidies for Mexico. Believe me, I have all the cards. Now will a politician be able to do it? No because they don’t know how to negotiate. That’s how we have the Iran deal where we give them $150 billion and other things. But for me that’s a hundred percent, Bob, and you can hold me to it and you will hold me to it.
WOODWARD: Okay, but how do you get a sovereign nation that says they don’t want to pay to pay?
TRUMP: Very simple. There are five different ways you can do it. You can do it through not giving them the subsidy that we pay them. You know, we pay Mexico a subsidy. I don’t know if you know. But the whole thing is ridiculous. We’re paying everybody subsidy. We actually have a small portion of China where they get a subsidy from us because they haven’t ended it for years.
WOODWARD: Just suppose they won’t do it. Would you —
TRUMP: We pay a subsidy. Money coming over the border, they’re — there are so many ways that Mexico makes money with us, Bob. There are so many different ways, five in particular, that we will take it out of there.
WOODWARD: I’m sorry to press on this, but how would you grab that money? If they say no, would you be willing to go to war to make sure we get the money to pay for this wall?
TRUMP: Trust me, Bob. When I rejuvenate our military, Mexico’s not going to be playing with us with war, that I can tell you. Mexico is not playing with us with war. Look, I have great relationships with the Mexican people. You’ve been seeing I’m winning every single poll in these primaries when they go out, when the polls come back in with the Hispanics. I have thousands of Hispanics that work for me and over the years tens of thousands that have worked for me over the years. I will tell you that the problem our country has is that our leaders are so weak — we have so many ways of getting the money to build the wall.
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