Kushner Didn’t Include U.S. Ambassador in Meetings

New York Times: “Mr. Kushner’s meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto was meant to soothe tensions… But the encounter between Mexico’s president and Mr. Kushner, a political newcomer whose top-secret security clearance was stripped last month, underscored the profound shift in approach that the Trump administration has taken with Mexico, and with the region more broadly.”

”Officials announced the visit less than a day before it happened, offering no guidance on what would be discussed.”

“Beyond that, Mr. Kushner, who also met with Mexico’s foreign minister, did not invite the American ambassador — Roberta S. Jacobson, a diplomat with more than 30 years of experience in the region — to join him in the meetings.”

Mexican President Cancels Trip After Testy Call

“Tentative plans for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump were scuttled this week after a testy call between the two leaders ended in an impasse over Trump’s promised border wall,” the Washington Post reports.

“Peña Nieto was eyeing an official trip to Washington this month or in early March, but called off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive.”

Senators Say Russia Is Meddling In Mexico Election

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) allege that Russia is using “sophisticated technology” to influence Mexico’s upcoming presidential election, and they’re asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to urge Mexico and other countries to rely on help from USAID to safeguard their elections, CBS News reports.

“Violent protests of thousands recently erupted after the Honduras presidential election, a contested race that was marred by accusations of voter fraud. Tear gas had to be used to diffuse the angry streets when the winner was declared weeks after the vote took place. The senators point to those images in calling for the need to support strong electoral processes to sustain a democracy.”

White House Won’t Say If It Will Accept Mexican Help

“The Trump administration has not decided whether it will accept aid from Mexico to help victims of the hurricane that has devastated swaths of Texas and overwhelmed emergency responders,” HuffPost reports.

“Asked if the Trump administration’s assessment is that there is no need for assistance from Mexico, the White House referred HuffPost to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which punted to the State Department, which directed questions back to FEMA.”

Trump Admitted Mexico Would Not Pay for Border Wall

“President Trump made building a wall along the southern U.S. border and forcing Mexico to pay for it core pledges of his campaign. But in his first White House call with Mexico’s president, Trump described his vow to charge Mexico as a growing political problem, pressuring the Mexican leader to stop saying publicly that his government would never pay,” the Washington Post reports.

According to a transcript, Trump “made clear that he realized the funding would have to come from other sources but threatened to cut off contact if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto continued to make defiant statements.”

Said Trump: “Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important to talk about.”

He said the funding “will work out in the formula somehow,” adding later that “it will come out in the wash, and that is okay.” But “if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”

Mexican President Denies He Called Trump

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto “is calling into question President Trump’s most recent claims that the leader called him to praise his administration’s work on the U.S.-Mexico border,” CBS News reports.

Said Trump earlier this week: “As you know, the border was a tremendous problem and they’re close to 80 percent stoppage. And even the president of Mexico called me — they said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment.”

Pena Nieto denies that ever happened.

Mexico Calls Border Wall a ‘Hostile Act’

Mexico’s foreign relations secretary called President Trump’s plan to build a border wall an “unfriendly, hostile” act, adding that it is a “bad idea” that will not accomplish anything, the AP reports.

And while Trump has repeatedly asserted that he will get the U.S.’s neighbor to pay for the wall, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray repeated that Mexico won’t pay a cent for it.

Schumer’s Priority Is to Block the Wall

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has concluded that denying President Trump his wall on the Mexican border would be the biggest defeat Democrats can hand him in his first year, Jonathan Swan reports.

“Trump needs 60 Senate votes to fund construction of his ‘great wall’ along the Southern border… There’s nothing the Republicans would be willing to offer that could get Trump the eight Democratic Senators he needs to fund the wall. Mitch McConnell’s only other option would be to invoke the nuclear option and bypass the filibuster. But Democratic appropriators are betting the Republican leader won’t be willing to undermine such a fundamental Senate tradition just to pay for Trump’s wall.”

“The evolving plan, being discussed by Schumer’s office and Senate appropriators: If Republicans put money for the wall into a bill, Democrats block it. It doesn’t matter what else is in the bill — Schumer will make it about the wall. The way Democrats see it, if they can block the wall, they’d crush a central feature of Trump’s political identity.”

Mexico Will ‘Not Accept’ U.S. Immigration Policies

Mexico will not accept new “unilateral” U.S. immigration proposals, and will not hesitate in approaching the United Nations to defend immigrants, Reuters reports.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said “the new U.S. proposals would be the main point of discussion for upcoming meetings, which will take place between Mexican officials, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday and Thursday.”

Trump Threatened to Send Troops to Mexico

President Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send U.S. troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to a transcript of the conversation obtained by the Associated Press.

Said Trump: “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.”

Trump was also quoted by Aristegui Noticias saying: “I don’t need the Mexicans. I don’t need Mexico. We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not.”

Trump Agrees to Not Talk About Mexico Paying for Wall

“In a bid to repair a rift with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, President Trump agreed on Friday to stop speaking publicly about one of his signature campaign promises: that Mexico would pay for the construction of a wall along the U.S. border,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The concession was detailed in the joint U.S.-Mexico statement after the two leaders had an hour-long phone call, but not in the White House’s version. A White House official said Mr. Trump did indeed agree to stop talking publicly about Mexico paying for the wall, which was one of his most oft-repeated lines that rallied his supporters during the 2016 campaign.”

Trump’s Mexico Stand May Produce Backlash

Wall Street Journal editorial: “Some six million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico. But the much larger risk is that Mexicans will sour on progress toward joining their North American neighbors as prosperous free-market democracies. This is the moment that Mexico’s left—dormant but not dead—has been waiting for as anti-American Andrés Manuel López Obrador prepares to run for President again in 2018.”

“Mr. Trump is a foreign-affairs neophyte, but he is already learning that nations can’t be bullied like GOP candidates or CEOs. They have their own nationalist political dynamics and when attacked they push back. Mr. Trump said as a candidate that he’d treat America’s friends better than Mr. Obama did, but his first move has been to treat Mexico like Mr. Obama treated Israel. On present course he may get comparable results, or worse.”

Trump Proposes 20% Tax on Mexican Imports

“President Trump plans to make Mexico pay for his border wall by imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports into the United States from Mexico, raising billions of dollars that would cover the cost of the new barrier,” the New York Times reports.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer “said the 20 percent tax on annual Mexican imports would raise $10 billion a year and would easily pay for a border wall that is estimated to cost between $8 billion and $20 billion. The value of imported goods from Mexico in 2015 was $296 billion.”

However, the White House insisted a few hours later “that it was not endorsing the plan.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Twitter: “Simply put, any policy proposal which drives up costs of Corona, tequila, or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. Mucho Sad.”