Hours after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for a hastily planned press conference in Mexico, and told reporters the topic of who would pay for Trump’s infamous border wall did not come up, things are getting dicey.
On Twitter, Peña Nieto accused Trump of lying, despite the fact he did not challenge Trump’s version of events during the press conference.
“At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” wrote Peña Nieto. “From there, the conversation addressed other issues, and developed a respectful manner.”
Since the meeting between the two men was conducted behind closed doors, it’s essentially Peña Nieto’s word against Trump’s.
The incentive for Trump to lie is obvious, leaving the meeting without extracting some kind of concession from the Mexican leader would make the “strong” candidate look weak. But Peña Nieto is facing a storm of criticism for both his decision to meet with Trump in the first place and the conciliatory tone of the resulting press conference, which many Mexicans saw as appeasement.
“To put it mildly, I think it was the biggest humiliation a Mexican president has suffered on his own territory in the last 50 years,” Nexos editor Esteban Illades told the New York Times. “He not only managed to make Donald Trump look presidential, which is an incredibly hard thing to do, he managed to forgive Donald Trump even though he didn’t actually offer an apology in the first place.”