President Trump has an unlikely new ally — one of The New York Times’ most liberal and well-known voices.
Thomas Friedman, a long-time member of The New York Times and columnist for the newspaper since 1995, has been scathing in his criticism of President Trump. In a column last February, the award-winning writer described Trump as the “biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today.”
During a CNN interview, the Pulitzer Prize winner also called Trump “disturbed,” adding that if Hillary Clinton were president and “done one of the things Donald Trump” was accused of doing, she would have been impeached.
Yet, Friedman now finds himself standing on the same side as Trump on one of the president’s signature issues — the border wall.
The veteran scribe’s latest column begins by detailing a recent trip he took to parts of the southern border.
“On April 12, I toured the busiest border crossing between America and Mexico — the San Ysidro Port of Entry, in San Diego — and the walls being built around it,” the piece reads.
“Guided by a U.S. Border Patrol team, I also traveled along the border right down to where the newest 18-foot-high slatted steel barrier ends and the wide-open hills and craggy valleys beckoning drug smugglers, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants begin.
“It’s a very troubling scene.”
Friedman continued: “The whole day left me more certain than ever that we have a real immigration crisis and that the solution is a high wall with a big gate — but a smart gate.”
“Without a high wall, too many Americans will lack confidence that we can control our borders, and they therefore will oppose the steady immigration we need.”
The piece continued to discuss how he believes the wall needed a “smart and compassionate” gate, and the country must welcome immigrants and asylum seekers “at a rate at which they can be properly absorbed into our society and work force.”
The column is in stark contrast to a piece published in February by the Times’ Editorial Board, titled, “Phony Wall, Phony Emergency.”
The column, published in the wake of President Trump’s national emergency declaration, charged: “In reality, the wall is not a done deal, and Mr. Trump has spent the past few months — the past two years, really — failing to convince either Congress or Mexico to pay for it. This week’s bipartisan spending bill, which contained no more wall money than the one over which Mr. Trump shut down the government in December, was a particularly humiliating defeat.”
“Desperate to save face, the president and his team cooked up a nonemergency emergency with the aim of seizing funds already appropriated for other purposes. Currently, the plan is to pull $2.5 billion from the military’s drug interdiction program, $3.6 billion from its construction budget and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund. The White House plans to “backfill” the money it is taking from the Pentagon in future budgets.
“And so, in a breathtaking display of executive disregard for the separation of powers, the White House is thumbing its nose at Congress, the Constitution and the will of the American people, the majority of whom oppose a border wall.”