“Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard just confirmed on the record our scoop”, Bloomberg’s Eric Martin tweeted on Monday morning.
Martin’s tweet had an excited feel to it, and to the extent that suggests he’s proud of his scoop, he should be.
On Saturday evening, when the story first ran, we took a few minutes to highlight it. The point wasn’t to disparage Trump’s “deal” any further – we had already done plenty of that. Rather, it was immediately apparent that if the president was in fact lying about Mexico’s purported pledge to buy more US farm products, that would eventually become a big story and Trump would be forced to explain himself.
Trump has been preoccupied with The New York Times, which reported over the weekend that two of the Mexico agreement’s main pillars were really nothing more than a reiteration of previous commitments made to former DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“When will the Failing New York Times admit that their front page story on the the Mexico deal at the Border is a FRAUD and nothing more than a badly reported ‘hit job’ on me?”, Trump asked on Monday.
He spent the weekend railing against the article and at one point, made the mistake of suggesting that somehow the Times was on the verge of retracting it. “The Failing New York Times story on Mexico and Illegal Immigration through our Southern Border has now been proven shockingly false and untrue… and the paper is embarrassed by it”, he claimed, without citing any evidence.
The paper’s communications department promptly responded as follows:
Actually, we still stand by our story. We are confident in our reporting, and as with so many other occasions, our stories stand up over time and the president’s denials of them do not. Calling the press the enemy is undemocratic and dangerous.
While his anger has been directed at the Times, Bloomberg’s scoop hasn’t been far from his mind either. Although he hasn’t specifically referenced it, Trump has, on several occasions, seemingly tried to refute it indirectly. On Monday morning, he delivered the following cryptic tweet:
We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body! We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, Tariffs will be reinstated!
Initially, it seemed that tweet was meant to dispel the notion that he was making it up when he said this, over the weekend:
MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!
Ebrard, though, says the “secret” portion of the deal Trump referenced has nothing to do with farm purchases, but is in fact related to a provision that entails a bigger discussion involving Brazil and other Central American nations if the new agreement between the US and Mexico doesn’t succeed in stemming the flow of migrants to the US.
As far as the farm purchases, Ebrard – who spent most of last week negotiating with Mike Pence, Bob Lighthizer and Mike Pompeo in Washington – said Monday that no such deal had been reached.
“There was NO agreement by Mexico to buy more US agricultural products”, Bloomberg’s Martin said, before quoting Ebrard. “There is no specific agreement on products of that nature,” the foreign minister said today, during AMLO’s morning news conference.
As Martin pointed out over the weekend, “[It would be] hard for Mexico to do more on that front” even if they wanted to. The country is “already the top buyer of yellow corn from Midwest states that voted for Trump.”