President Donald Trump on Wednesday denied a blistering report from The New York Times alleging that he proposed adding an alligator- and snake-filled moat to the design of his long-promised border wall in a meeting with top immigration enforcement officials. “Now the press is trying to sell the fact that I wanted a Moot [sic] stuffed with alligators and snakes, with an electrified fence and sharp spikes on top, at our Southern Border,” Trump tweeted, adding that while he “may be tough on Border Security,” he’s “not that tough. The press has gone Crazy. Fake News!” The president later published a modified version of the same tweet, correcting the word “Moot” to “Moat.”
The Times story, citing White House aides and adapted from the book Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration, reports that Trump frequently discusses fortifying the as-yet unrealized wall along the U.S. southern border “with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators,” as well as making the wall electrified, with spikes topping the barrier “that could pierce human flesh.” The president also told subordinates that soldiers patrolling the border should respond to rock-throwing migrants by shooting them in the legs. Trump’s denial on Wednesday ignores past public remarks along similar lines. In December 2018, he shared “A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful,” featuring a close-up of sharp spikes. He has also spoken admiringly of countries that use electrified fences along their borders.