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President Donald Trump tweeted out a time-lapse video on Thursday exclaiming that his border wall is “under construction right now.” The big problem is that the footage he’s passing off as new is actually repair work to existing structures undertaken five months ago.
THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW! https://t.co/exUJCiITsz— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019
The president originally shared the footage on Wednesday.
Again, despite the president’s suggestion, this is not a new section of the wall at all. It’s restoration work and part of the $73.3 million Santa Theresa Project Border Wall Replacement Project.
The work is being undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Trump signed off on it himself when he first took office in January 2017.
The New York Times reported last month that no new miles of border barriers had been constructed under the Trump administration at all.
One thing Trump did get right, is that the replacement on the 20-mile length of barriers shown in the clip did finish up late January.
However, the president’s attempt to pass of repair work as progress on his politically contentious border wall not only raised confusion online but garnered a response from USACE officials, who politely clarified that the video did not show ongoing construction.
“The fence segment was constructed and funded under the authorities of DHS/CBP with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers providing contracting oversight for the construction through our interagency support mission,” a USACE spokeswoman told military publication Task & Purpose. “The video, which was filmed in Sept. 2018, has the USACE logo on it because it was produced by USACE.”
In a further comment, public affairs director for the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the “construction” was “a replacement project.”
“I’ve been in this division for 12 years,” he said, “and we were doing border wall replacement work back then.”
It’s not the first time that the president has tried this trick to pass off repair work as progress on his as-yet-unrealized campaign promise. He used photos of reconstructed portions of existing wall in the same way back in March 2018.
Then, as now, the president was called out by the fact-checkers and the opposition while many of his supporters went on retweet his fake news uncritically.
H/T Task & Purpose
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.