Outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says President Donald Trump is no longer committed to building a wall, but instead is focused on a “barrier.”
“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Kelly told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Sunday.
The former Marine general said he talked to Border Patrol workers to see what they wanted in enhanced security. (RELATED: Fundraiser To Build Trump’s Border Wall Exceeds $10 Million)
“They said, ‘Well we need a physical barrier in certain places, we need technology across the board, and we need more people,’” Kelly told the Times.
“The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”
When Trump seemed to cave on funding for the wall just prior to the partial government shutdown this month, many conservative critics expressed their outrage that Trump had retreated from a key campaign promise.
Kelly refused to say that the United States is suffering from a border security crisis but admitted, “We do have an immigration problem.”
In the interview, Kelly also insisted that he was never asked to do anything illegal while performing his duties and wouldn’t have if he had been ordered to do so. (RELATED: Report: John Kelly Scrapped With Corey Lewandowski Outside Oval Office)
Commenting on Trump’s recent decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and his intention to do so in Afghanistan, Kelly said it was not a decision that Trump took lightly and that he ensured the president had access to the best intelligence voices he could find.
“It’s never been: The president just wants to make a decision based on no knowledge and ignorance,” Kelly said. “You may not like his decision, but at least he was fully informed on the impact.”