By David Kalish [timesunion.com]
Marking a potentially big turnaround in rocky U.S.-Mexico relations, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday offered to pay for President Trump’s impeachment instead of a $21.6 billion border wall separating the two nations.
“We would pay for the ‘whole enchilada,’” Peña Nieto told reporters on the steps of the National Palace in Mexico City. “Impeachment is far cheaper than a border wall, and frankly, no one will want an expensive border wall after Trump’s gone, anyway.”
Budget deficit hawks and even some GOP leaders welcomed Peña Nieto’s offer, which comes amid growing calls for Trump’s impeachment for his part in a series of scandals that has rocked Washington and plunged the White House into chaos.
“While the cost of impeachment is just a drop in the bucket of the multi-trillion dollar federal budget, every little bit helps,” said Sen. John McCain, effusively praising the Mexican financial offer at a news conference. “And it’s time to get this idiot out of office anyway.”
The latest scandal broke Tuesday with reports that Trump allegedly asked former FBI director James Comey to end the criminal investigation into Trump’s then national security advisor, Michael Flynn. Trump’s behavior fueled accusations the White House obstructed justice, a potentially impeachable offense. On Monday, news broke that Trump may have leaked highly classified information to Russian spies in the Oval Office, prompting calls from Democrats and even some Republicans for an independent prosecutor into Trump’s potential wrongdoing.
The GOP has indicated it would not include money for Trump’s border wall in its fiscal 2017 budget, and the Department of Homeland Security has estimated that the 1,250 mile series of walls and fences pushed by Trump would cost as much as $21.6 billion. In contrast, the most recent U.S. impeachment, of former President Clinton, added up to about $80 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Mexico’s timely offer could bring a much-needed thaw in U.S.-Mexico relations, which iced up after Trump’s insistence — during the 2016 presidential campaign — that America’s southern neighbor bear the full cost of a wall to block out Mexican rapists, murderers and drug pushers. Mexico’s refusal to pay prompted Trump to threaten to retaliate with a border tax on Mexican imports to cover the wall’s cost.