Furious Trump Denies He Wanted To Build An Alligator-Infested Moat
In a fiery press conference, US President Donald Trump angrily denounced a report he wanted to "shoot migrants in the legs" and arm the US-Mexico border with an alligator-infested moat.
"You know it's probably a fraud," Trump told reporters.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump repeatedly suggested violent and illegal methods of fortifying the southern border wall in a March meeting.
His suggestions included a moat stocked with snakes and alligators; an electrified wall topped with spikes able to piece human flesh; and instructions for soldiers to shoot migrants in the legs to "slow them down".
In a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Trump mistakenly railed against the Washington Post for the story instead, calling it "corrupt" reporting and a "total lie".
"Well obviously it's fake because almost everything the Washington Post does is fake," he said.
"It's a fake newspaper, it's owned by a rich guy for the purposes of giving him power in Washington. It's really, I mean it's a lobbyist. I call it the lobbyist Washington Post for Amazon and he ought to be ashamed of himself because what they do to his reputation.
"So these two reporters wrote this book and they said I want a moat with alligators, snakes, electrified fences so people get electrocuted if they so much as touch the fence and spikes on top. Never said it. Never thought of it. And I actually put out something on social media today. I said, 'I'm tough on the border but I'm not that tough.' OK? It was a lie. Just so you haven't you asked the question. It was a total lie. It was corrupt reporting. OK."
The Times reported aides sought a cost analysis of the infested moat, prompting more than one US reporter to make a Freedom of Information request.
Times reporter Julie Davis, who broke the story along with her colleague Michael Shear, said she stood by their reporting, part of a new book about the president's "assault on immigration".
In an unrelated matter, Trump is currently facing an impeachment inquiry over a phone call he made with Ukraine's leader.
Democrats accused the administration of "flagrant disregard" of previous requests and said that refusal could be considered an impeachable offence.
Separately, the Democrats accused Trump of "an incitement to violence" against a national security whistleblower and advised him and his administration not to intimidate potential witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.
The whistleblower exposed a July phone call that Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump pressed for an investigation of Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his family.
Democrats say the pressure on Zelenskiy, on its own, constitutes an abuse of power worthy of impeachment scrutiny.
In the Wednesday joint press conference, Trump was asked if the whistleblower's identity should be protected.
"I don't care," he replied.
He displayed an unusual show of anger as he defenced what he has called his "perfect" phone call with Zelenskiy.
He suggested, without evidence, that House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff may have committed treason, and, again without evidence, labelled Biden and his son "stone-cold crooked".
At one point, Trump demanded that a reporter pressing him on his dealings with Ukraine move on.
"Ask the president of Finland a question, please," he said, emphasising each word, eventually labelling the reporter "corrupt".
Trump declined to answer yes or no when asked if he would co-operate with the House to produce requested documents on Ukraine.
"Well, I always co-operate," he said, though his administration has repeatedly stonewalled congressional investigations.
"This is a hoax," he added.
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