Donald Trump's proposed border wall has been a literal rallying cry since he started his campaign—these days, it's sometimes morphed from "build the wall" to "finish the wall." Now, his goal is to have 500 miles of it built before Election Day 2020. But the Army Corps of Engineers has only put up 60 miles since Trump took office in January 2017, and those 60 miles has only been "replacement" barriers rather than new construction.
There are a lot of impediments to getting a wall built along the U.S.-Mexico border, including environmental laws and the fact that on the U.S. side of the border a lot of land is privately owned. So Trump, according to the Washington Post, has been telling his aides to get the wall built by any means necessary, directing them "to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project." Per the Post:
When aides have suggested that some orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying "take the land," according to officials who attended the meetings. "Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you," he has told officials in meetings about the wall.
A White House official told the Post, speaking on condition of anonymity, that Trump was joking. But it's been reported in the past that Trump sees presidential pardons as political tools, issuing them to conservative supporters like former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and right-wing commentator Dinesh D'souza.
Trump is also micromanaging the construction of the wall and the updates of the existing fence in some odd ways. He's instructed the Army Corps to remove smooth metal plates near the top of the fence, meant to deter climbers, because he found them unattractive. Instead, he wants the top of the fence sharpened to a point. He's also ordered all existing fence repainted with a coating called "matte black" or "flat black," which leaves a smooth surface that absorbs heat in the sun. Using the substance will slow construction and add an extra $1 million in costs per mile. Trump is also reportedly pushing the Army Corps to award a contract to Fisher Industries, a North Dakota-based company whose CEO is a major donor to Republican senator Kevin Cramer, a staunch Trump supporter.
The Post reports that the president acknowledged in an immigration meeting with lawmakers last year that a wall is not the most effective means to control immigration. Despite that, he insists that his supporters expect a wall as part of his campaign promise—even if that completely undermines his other claim to being the "law and order" candidate.
The president ponders granting clemency to Muhammad Ali, whose conviction was overturned more than four decades ago.
Originally Appeared on GQ