(CNN) – White House officials say they are keeping the lines of communication open with Mexico’s president after he canceled his visit next week with President Trump.
Just as President Trump stepped off of his maiden voyage as Commander in Chief on Air Force One, he landed in his first diplomatic controversy. And for a change, all eyes weren’t on his Twitter feed.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced in blunt Trump fashion that he has informed the White House he will not be attending a meeting scheduled next week with the new American president. It is a protest of President Trump’s plan for a massive new wall on the border.
Pena Nieto said, “Mexico does not believe in walls. I’ve said time and again; Mexico will not pay for any wall.”
Trump all but invited Pena Nieto to scrap the trip, tweeting, “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”
At a GOP leaders retreat in Philadelphia, the president said the decision to cancel was mutual. Trump said, “The president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week. Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless.”
Trump also touted another part of his immigration plan, the swift removal of undocumented criminals.
Top republicans in congress are now examining ways to pay for the wall, which comes with an estimated price tag of at least $12 billion.
Sen. Mitch McConnell said, “We intend to address the wall issue ourselves, and the president can deal with his relations with other countries on that issue and other issues.”
House speaker Paul Ryan told republicans, “This is going to be an unconventional presidency. I think you know this by now, Casey. And I think we’re going to see unconventional activities like tweets and things like that. I think that’s just something we’re all going to have to get used to.”
While republican leaders are following the president’s path on Mexico, they are flat out rejecting his latest defense of the use of torture on terror suspects.
Sen. Mitch McConnell said, “I believe virtually all of my members are comfortable with the state of the law on that issue now.”
Rep. Paul Ryan added, “And torture is illegal. Torture is not legal. We agree with it not being legal.”
The president warned his party he’s not backing down from an agenda he sees as essential to keeping Americans safe, both overseas and on the streets of U.S. cities.
Trump said, “You look in Chicago. What’s going on in Chicago? I said the other day, what the hell is going on? That is why we will continue to stand with the incredible men and women of law enforcement.”
The president will hold his first joint news conference with a foreign leader Friday, when he holds court with British Prime Minister Theresa May. Questions on Mexico will very likely dominate the discussion.