Update: Though Donald Trump said that he and President Peña Nieto had not discussed who will pay for the proposed border wall, the Mexican President clarified their conversation via Twitter.
"At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall," the translation of Peña Nieto's tweet reads. Hillary Clinton's campaign was quick to comment. Campaign chair John Podesta issued a statement saying that Trump "choked" because he wasn't "in front of a friendly crowd." Following Nieto's tweet, Podesta issued an amended statement clarifying: "It turns out Trump didn't just choke, he got beat in the room and lied about it." Read the full statement below.
Trump's campaign issued a statement that chalked the difference up to a misunderstanding. "Today was the first part of the discussion and a relationship builder between Mr. Trump and President Peña Nieto," Jason Miller, Senior Communications Advisor, said in the statement. "It was not a negotiation, and that would have been inappropriate. It is unsurprising that they hold two different views on this issue, and we look forward to continuing the conversation."
Update August 31, 5:20 p.m.: In a joint press conference after a private meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Trump and Peña Nieto emphasized their respect for each other and discussed their mutual goals. “We had a great, substantiative, and constructive exchange of ideas,” said Trump. He outlined five shared goals of the United States and Mexico, including ending illegal immigration and improving NAFTA. In response to a question, he added that he and Peña Nieto had discussed his proposal for a border wall, but had not talked about his plan for Mexico to pay for it. Trump, who has been criticized for comments regarding Mexicans, said that he respected the Mexican people for their “values of family, faith, and community,” and said that Mexicans and Americans shared common goals. Peña Nieto said via a translator that his conversation with the presidential candidate had been constructive. “Even though we may not agree on everything, I trust that together, we will be able to find better prosperity and security,” he said. This story was originally published on August 30, 2016. Donald Trump will travel to Mexico to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto, according to a tweet posted to Trump's official account. The news, initially reported by The Washington Post, comes after President Nieto invited both Trump and Hillary Clinton to meet with him. The visit comes on the same day as a major speech Trump is scheduled to give in Phoenix clarifying his immigration policy, which appears to be in flux. On August 23, he told Fox News that he was open to “softening” laws on illegal immigration. “We’re not looking to hurt people,” he said in an interview. He also said that he would “come out with a decision very soon” regarding immigration. Immigration has been a cornerstone of the Trump campaign since its beginning. Trump has promised to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border, which Mexico would be made to fund. Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said in May that “under no circumstance will Mexico pay for the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing,” according to Reuters.
Trump’s visit was widely criticized in the hours leading up to the meeting. One comment from a Twitter user that was translated from Spanish said, “The stupidest thing in the history of the Mexican presidency.” Mexican intellectual Héctor Aguilar Camín tweeted that the meeting put Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in the position of either requiring an apology from Trump or losing public approval. At least two protests were planned in Mexico City on Wednesday over the visit, according to The Associated Press.
Trump has made a number of incendiary comments about Mexicans, including calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, and tweeting a photo of himself eating a taco bowl as a celebration of Mexican national holiday Cinco de Mayo. The visit will be Trump’s first official meeting with a head of state since accepting the Republican nomination for president. But it's unlikely he'll engage in any serious negotiation — Esquire's politics writer Charles P. Pierce correctly points out that, should Trump enter into an agreement with Nieto, he could be in violation of the Logan Act. The Logan Act prevents an unauthorized civilian from negotiating on behalf of the United States with a foreign country or leader.
Former Mexico President Vicente Fox has made it clear that he does not expect Mexico to pay for the wall. Fox used forceful language to deny Trump's suggestion.