President Donald Trump on Wednesday denied a report that he had urged aides to break a myriad of federal laws and told them he would pardon them if necessary to get his long-promised southern border wall built.
"Another totally Fake story in the Amazon Washington Post (lobbyist) which states that if my Aides broke the law to build the Wall (which is going up rapidly), I would give them a Pardon. This was made up by the Washington Post only in order to demean and disparage - FAKE NEWS!" Trump tweeted.
The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that Trump has instructed aides to take extreme measures— including fast-tracking construction contracts and skirting environmental regulations— to make sure the wall is built in time for the 2020 election. The New York Times also reported on the discussion.
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NBC News has not independently verified their reports.
The Post, citing current and former officials involved with the project, also reported that Trump has signaled that he would pardon aides accused of breaking the law to hasten the wall's progress.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” he has told aides in meetings about the wall, the paper reported. One aide told the paper that the president was joking about the pardons.
He also ignored concerns about contracting and the use of eminent domain, saying “take the land,” according to The Post, citing officials who attended the meetings.
Trump and his supporters have repeatedly called the border wall a necessary deterrent to illegal border crossings, while critics consider it divisive, expensive and environmentally harmful. In February, he declared a national emergency in an effort to circumvent Congress and fund the wall.
Customs and Border Protection tweeted on Sunday that it had completed roughly 60 miles of the barrier along the southern border since 2017, a far cry from the 500 miles of wall that Trump has promised.
"The wall is being built as we speak," he said during a campaign rally in May. "We’ll have almost 500 miles of wall by the end of next year."
Much of the construction on the southern border has been to replace existing border infrastructure.