President Donald Trump is now distancing himself from a part of his border wall project that is already suffering from erosion. The president responded to an investigative report by Pro Publica and The Texas Tribune, which found that a privately funded border wall is already in danger of collapsing. Trump tweeted that this project was undertaken "to make me look bad."
The report focused on a privately funded, privately owned section of wall built on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas. Entrepreneur Tommy Fisher spearheaded the project. He claimed that he had discovered a fast, cheap and reliable way to build this structure that no civil engineer before him had managed. He secured about $1.7 billion in federal contracts to do the work and also earned the president's enthusiastic support. Now, Trump is not only denying his involvement in the project but claiming that it was designed to smear his reputation.
I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads. It was only done to make me look bad, and perhsps it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles. https://t.co/L8RUPCAhqc— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2020
"I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads," Trump tweeted about the story. "It was only done to make me look bad, and perhsps [sic] it now doesn't even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles."
For reference, Trump retweeted a link to the new article on Fisher's wall, posted by Texas journalist Jeremy Schwartz. Within the report is a link to a Washington Post article from last year, where White House sources said that Trump has "aggressively pushed" for Homeland Security officials to get in contact with Fisher and pursue his ideas. This request reportedly came after Fisher made several appearances on Fox News.
Fisher collected a massive amount of funding from the federal government to build his wall — about three miles along a winding portion of the Rio Grande near the southern tip of Texas. It is made of quick-to-build steel and was placed along one of the busiest areas for border patrol agents. Photos of the wall show that it is already in danger of falling into the river, posing a risk to the local environment.
UPDATE: Experts to inspect a controversial privately built border wall following a federal court hearing this am. Govt attorney identified 4 areas of problematic erosion along the base of the fence and the banks of the Rio Grande. Fisher attorney promises fixes, but vague on plan https://t.co/76DTKG9hK4— Jeremy Schwartz (@JinATX) July 8, 2020
Schwartz and journalist Perla Trevizo collected analyses of this structure from civil engineers, hydrologists and other experts from various institutions, all of whom agreed that the erosion was clear just from photographic evidence. They explained that this is why fences and walls are typically built further away from the river, where they can be more stable. Despite all this backlash, Fisher continues to insist that his project is the "Lamborghini" of border walls.
Beyond problems with the wall itself, or the president's self-contradictory statements on the project, the new report highlighted how much taxpayer money had been funneled into this controversial endeavor and how scattered the decision-making process seems to be. With the border wall serving as a central pillar of Trump's platform, many analysts are wondering how this news will impact his re-election bid.