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Pelosi and Schumer confront Trump over false claims about border wall

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Congressional Democratic leaders clashed with President Donald Trump over misrepresenting the state of his long-promised border wall during a remarkable on-camera debate in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

In a heated dispute over his requested $5 billion in funding for the wall, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer confronted Trump over his repeated false claims, urging him to have a “truthful” discussion.

At one point in his remarks, Trump boasted that “a lot of the wall is built, and it has been effective,” even though none of the wall that he promised in his presidential campaign has been built, aside from eight prototypes constructed outside of San Diego, California.

Read more:Trump gets into raucous, on-camera Oval Office debate with Schumer and Pelosi and says he’d be ‘proud’ to shut down the government

Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico are seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico, January 27, 2018.
Reuters/Jorge Duenes

Trump even presented flashcards with statistics purportedly showing the success of the border wall, saying illegal traffic in the border regions of San Diego, El Paso, Tucson, and Yuma dropped “when the wall was up.” But only fencing has been built with the $1.6 billion allocated last spring.

“Here’s what I want to say. We have a lot of disagreements here. The Washington Post gave you a lot of Pinocchios because you constantly misstate how much of the wall is built,” Schumer said, likely referring to the newspaper’s recent “bottomless Pinocchio” rating for Trump’s most frequently repeated false claims.

At another point in the meeting, Trump insisted that debating the issue in front of the press was “not bad, Nancy. It’s called transparency,” after Pelosi complained about having the meeting on-camera.

Pelosi fired back, “It’s not transparency when we’re not stipulating to a set of facts, and when we want to have a debate with you about confronting some of those facts.”

Read more: Nancy Pelosi says funding for Trump’s ‘immoral, ineffective, expensive’ border wall is off the table

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, following a meeting with President Donald Trump.
Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

She went on to argue that the flashcards he had presented “are not factual” and urged Trump to participate in a discussion “where we don’t have to contradict in public the statistics you put forth.”

“We have to have an evidence-based conversation about what does work and what money has been spent and how effective it is,” she said. “This is about the security of our country you take an oath to protect and defend. We don’t want that mischaracterized by anyone.”

After the meeting, Pelosi told reporters again that she wished the debate had not been public, but that Trump’s misstatements needed to be corrected.

“We didn’t want to contradict the president when he was putting forth figures that had no reality to them, no basis in fact,” she said. “We have to, if we are going to proceed in all of this, have evidence-based, factual, truthful information about what works and what doesn’t. I didn’t want to in front of those people say, ‘You don’t know what you are talking about.'”

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