President Donald Trump during a lengthy appearance in the White House's Rose Garden on Friday that predecessors told him they wanted a wall on the United States' border with Mexico. He said so in the midst of an extended soliloquy about the border wall for which he has yet to find funding or widespread political support.
The government is shut down over the president's demand that Congress allocate $5.7 billion for the wall.
"This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me," Trump said. "And they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it."
Trump has made 7,600 false or misleading statements since he became president, and some have proved more difficult than others to fact-check. This one was not. There are only four living ex-presidents. The Washington Post reached out to them to see whether they told Trump that a border wall should have been built before he was in office: All said they hadn't. A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush declined to comment, saying it was too soon for Bush, who died in November, to be "dragged into such debates."Barack Obama
Eric Schultz, a spokesman for former President Barack Obama, pointed to past remarks in which Obama spoke critically about Trump's idea for the wall.
"Suggesting that we can build an endless wall along our borders, and blame our challenges on immigrants - that doesn't just run counter to our history as the world's melting pot; it contradicts the evidence that our growth and our innovation and our dynamism has always been spurred by our ability to attract strivers from every corner of the globe," Obama said at Rutgers University in 2016. "That's how we became America. Why would we want to stop it now?"George W. Bush
It is true that border walls hold a special place in former President George W. Bush's legacy. The Secure Fence Act, which he signed into law, paved the way for 700 miles of fences along stretches of the border. But spokesman Freddy Ford told reporters that Bush had not discussed the wall with Trump.Bill Clinton
Angel Urena, a spokesman for former President Bill Clinton, said Clinton had never told Trump that a border wall should have been built.
"He has not," Urena said. "In fact, they've not talked since the inauguration."Jimmy Carter
Former President Jimmy Carter has been known as a humanitarian in the more than 35 years since he was the nation's executive. On Monday, the Carter Center, his nonprofit at Emory University, released a statement from him saying he had never spoken to Trump about the issue - nor would he have encouraged him on the wall if he had.
"I have not discussed the border wall with President Trump, and do not support him on the issue," Carter said in the statement.