WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send US troops to stop “bad hombres down there’’ unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.
The excerpt of the call did not detail who exactly Trump considered “bad hombres,’’ nor did it make clear the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s response. Mexico denies that Trump made the threat.
Still, the excerpt offers a rare and striking look at how the new president is conducting diplomacy behind closed doors. Trump’s remarks suggest he is using the same tough and blunt talk with world leaders that he used to rally crowds on the campaign trail.
A White House spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. The Mexican Foreign Relations Department told The AP: “The negative statements you refer to did not occur during said telephone call. On the contrary, the tone was constructive.’’
The phone call between the leaders was intended to patch things up between the new president and his ally. The two have had a series of public spats over Trump’s determination to have Mexico pay for the planned border wall, something Mexico steadfastly refuses to agree to.
“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,’’ Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt given to AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.’’
A person with access to the official transcript of the phone call provided only that portion of the conversation to The Associated Press. The person gave it on condition of anonymity because the administration did not make the details of the call public.
The Mexican website Aristegui Noticias on Tuesday published a similar account of the phone call, based on the reporting of journalist Dolia Estevez. The report described Trump as humiliating Pena Nieto in a confrontational conversation.