President Donald Trump threatened to send American troops to Mexico to take care of “bad hombres” in a Friday call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Associated Press reports.
“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told the Mexican president in the excerpt provided to the AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”
Trump described the call with Mexico as “very good” last Friday. Although Trump added that Mexico has made the US “look foolish” and that he is seeking a “new relationship” with the border nation.
The White House told the AP Thursday that the comments made by Trump were “lighthearted” and part of a discussion about “how the United States and Mexico could work collaboratively to combat drug cartels and other criminal elements, and make the border more secure.”
Dolia Estevez, a Mexican journalist, reported on the confrontational call before the AP did. She told a Mexican news outlet, Aristequi Noticias, that the call was a “very offensive conversation where Trump humiliated Peña Nieto.”
The Mexican journalist, citing multiple sources, said that Peña Nieto was “stammering” during the phone conversation with Trump. “I don’t need the Mexicans. I don’t need Mexico,” Trump told the Mexican president, according to Estevez, and he added that Mexico will indeed pay for the border wall.
Mexico’s foreign ministry denied Estevez’s account and said in a statement that the tone of the call was “constructive.”
The relationship between the U.S. and Mexico has been strained since President Trump took office. He has continued to vow that Mexico will pay for a border wall either via a tax on imports, or through other “complicated” means. Peña Nieto subsequently canceled a scheduled visit to Washington due to Trump’s insistence that Mexico will pay for the wall, as he finds it offensive to Mexico’s sovereignty.