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Henry Cuellar Says Trump's Border Visit Can't Deflect From Capitol Siege 'Ingrained In Our Minds'

seats and TV cameras in front of an upcoming speech by president trump at a portion of the border wall
Courtesy Sandra Sanchez
The scene before Trump's speech Tuesday near a portion of the border wall near Alamo, Texas.

The South Texas Congressman says Trump was there to tout his border wall project, and greatly overstated how many new miles of fencing had been built during his term.

From Texas Standard:

Update: Since this story first aired, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump, with a vote of 232 to 197, with 10 Republicans voting in favor of impeachment.

President Donald Trump's speech on Tuesday, in front of a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall near Alamo, Texas, could be seen as his "last stand" in the waning days of his presidency, says South Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar.

The appearance was Trump's first since the storming of the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday – an event for which the U.S. House will vote to decide whether to impeach him. Trump says he bears no responsibility for inciting the siege. Cuellar told Texas Standard that Trump is trying to deflect through his visit to the border to tout progress on wall construction. But he says that deflection won't work.

"It's not going to happen. I mean, that's ingrained in our minds – the images, what we saw last week, what we heard, what we saw, it's ingrained in our minds," Cuellar said.

Trump's visit was meant to be an acknowledgement of fulfilling his promise to complete hundreds of miles of new border fencing during his term. His original promise was 1,000 miles. On Tuesday, he claimed 450 new miles were built. Cuellar says that's false.

"In the last four years, there has been only 25 – and I emphasize 25 miles – of fencing. That's it. But again, here's another misinformation, because he knows very well that the other miles were [where] they replaced an old fence, they added a double fence or there was a fence already," Cuellar said.

Other news outlets say 47 miles have been completed.

As Congress considers impeaching Trump for the second time, Cuellar says it's important to hold him accountable. Cuellar was at the Capitol last week and says it was clear the rioters were willing to use force to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election win. From his third-floor office, Cuellar watched it escalate from protest to siege.

"People got very close to the Capitol. They started hanging flags. ... I've seen a lot of crowds in the past, but they all respect the perimeter of the Capitol building; they never go in," Cuellar said. "They had people there that smeared feces and and stole things and vandalized things. They walked in with zip ties. And, you know, zip ties are done for only one purpose ... to make a citizen's arrest of senators and congressmen."

Cuellar expects more Republicans to vote in favor of impeachment than some my expect. If the House votes in favor of impeachment, which is expected, the Senate will hold an impeachment trial.

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Kristen Cabrera is a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, where she saw snow for the first time and walked a mile through a blizzard. A native of the Rio Grande Valley, she graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American (now UTRGV) and is a former KUT News intern. She has been working as a freelance audio producer, writer and podcaster. Email her:
Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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