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Thu May 23, 2019, 07:59 PM

'He always brings them up': Trump tries to steer border wall deal to North Dakota firm

Source: Washington Post

‘He always brings them up’: Trump tries to steer border wall deal to North Dakota firm

By Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey May 23 at 7:06 PM

President Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a North Dakota construction firm whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News, according to four administration officials.

In phone calls, White House meetings and conversations aboard Air Force One during the past several months, Trump has aggressively pushed Dickinson, N.D.-based Fisher Industries to Department of Homeland Security leaders and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commanding general of the Army Corps, according to the administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The push for a specific company has alarmed military commanders and DHS officials.

Semonite was summoned to the White House again Thursday, after the president’s aides told Pentagon officials — including Gen. Mark Milley, the commander of the U.S. Army — that the president wanted to discuss the border barrier. According to an administration official with knowledge of the Oval Office meeting, Trump immediately brought up Fisher, a company that sued the U.S. government last month after the Army Corps did not accept its bid to install barriers along the southern border, a contract potentially worth billions of dollars.

Trump has latched on to the company’s public claims that a new weathered steel design and innovative construction method would vastly speed up the project — and deliver it at far less cost to taxpayers. White House officials said Trump wants to go with the best and most cost-effective option to build the wall quickly.

“The President is one of the country’s most successful builders and knows better than anyone how to negotiate the best deals,” said Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary. “He wants to make sure we get the job done under budget and ahead of schedule.”

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/he-always-brings-them-up-trump-tries-to-steer-border-wall-deal-to-north-dakota-firm/2019/05/23/92d3858c-7b30-11e9-8bb7-0fc796cf2ec0_story.html

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