Trump Supported the Private Border Wall at the Center of a Fraud Case, a Close Ally Said

He’s since distanced himself from the project.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), left, and Brian Kolfage, the head of We Build the Wall, overlook the privately funded fence along the US-Mexico border in Sunland Park, New Mexico, last year.Joel Angel Juarez/ZUMA

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In January 2019, Kris Kobach told the New York Times that President Trump had given his blessing to an effort to build a private wall along the border with Mexico. The organizers of the project are now facing federal fraud charges.

Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state and prominent Trump supporter, was serving as an adviser to “We Build the Wall,” the group that raised more than $25 million to build the wall. “I talked with the president, and the ‘We Build the Wall Effort’ came up,” Kobach told the Times. “The president said ‘the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.’”

On Thursday, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and three others involved with “We Build the Wall” with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendants allegedly pocketed more than a million dollars of donations, despite repeated assurances to donors that all the money would go construction.

Trump tweeted last month that he disagreed with the plan to build a private section of wall:

There isn’t evidence that Trump knew about the alleged fraud, and he is continuing to distance himself from the project. “I feel very badly,” Trump said in the Oval Office on Thursday. “I haven’t been dealing with [Bannon] for a very long period of time…I don’t know anything about the project at all…I don’t like that project. I thought it was being done for showboating reasons.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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