President Trump talked to Defense Secretary James Mattis about using military funds to pay for border wall

  • The Pentagon said Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke with President Donald Trump about using military funds to pay for the proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Trump floated the idea of using military funds after expressing disappointment by the amount of money allocated for border security in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Department of Defense photo
Defense Secretary James Mattis.

The Pentagon said Thursday that Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke with President Donald Trump about using military funds to pay for the proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. But the Pentagon didn't say there were any new developments.

Trump suggested the idea in a tweet on Sunday morning.

"What I can tell you is that the secretary has talked to the president about it," chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said describing the conversations as "initial."

When asked if taking money away from the service branches in order to fund Trump's wall would harm Mattis' goal of a maintaining a lethal military force, White responded, "I think that's a bridge too far because we don't have those details."

White added that "securing Americans and securing the nation is of paramount importance to the secretary."

She said, that "there is no daylight between" the president and secretary "with respect to ensuring that this military stays the most lethal in the world. There is no disagreement with them on that issue."

The announcement comes on the heels of reports that Trump floated the idea of using military funds to "several advisors" after being disappointed by the amount of money allocated for border security in the $1.3 trillion omnibus.

Trump signed the colossal spending bill into law Friday, touting it as a "matter of national security." His signature on the 2,200-page legislation grants the most significant increase in defense funding in the past 15 years. The Department of Defense is set to gain $61 billion more than last year's enacted funding for a top line of $700 billion.

Trump wanted as much as $25 billion for his wall project, but the legislation authorized only $1.6 billion for fencing, surveillance technology, and other measures.

In his first public appearance since signing the defense-friendly bill, Trump told a crowd in Ohio that he has not given up on the wall.

"That's what I do, I build, I was always very good at building. It was always my best thing. I think better than being president I was maybe good at building," Trump said Thursday.

During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would fund the wall, but he has backed off those pledges in office, seeking federal money.

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