The relationship between Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray and Donald Trump’s son-in-law is close enough that they helped rewrite the United States president’s speech two weeks ago when he signed the executive order to begin construction of a border wall, say media reports.
CBS News and the Washington Post have reported that Videgaray persuaded Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser, to soften the language in the speech because of the damage it might cause to relations between the two countries.
Videgaray, however, has denied the claim. “I never thought the day would come when I would use this phrase, but it applies now: FAKE NEWS,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
CBS News said that according to unnamed Mexican officials Videgaray was meeting with members of the administration in the White House the day Trump was to sign the order for the border wall when Kushner showed him a copy of the president’s speech.
The officials said Videgaray was horrified, and that Kushner suggested they rewrite it to make it less damaging. The two met with Trump in the Oval Office where they urged the president to soften the language about Mexico, and he agreed.
A White House official has since disputed that version of events. “This is not an accurate account of their meeting and they did not ‘rewrite’ portions of the speech,” he told CBS News.
In the end, softening the language was not enough to prevent an angry response in Mexico, which prompted President Enrique Peña Nieto to make a public broadcast that evening to reiterate that Mexico would not pay for a border wall.
That drew a sharp response the following morning from Trump, who suggested a summit scheduled for the following week should be canceled. Peña Nieto did just that, and ordered Videgaray to return home.
The Washington Post reported today that Videgaray and Kushner, who met through friends in the financial industry, have developed a personal bond.
“Videgaray has in his favor a close relationship with Jared, and that opens a direct channel of communication with Trump,” said Rafael Fernández de Castro, a professor at the ITAM university in Mexico City. Though, he added, “the son-in-law is not going to save us.”