While the federal government was enduring its 10th day in a partial shutdown, President Donald Trump was busy tweeting out support for his key demand for funding a border wall with Mexico. In a series of tweets on New Year's Eve, Trump appeared determined to pressure Democrats to get on board with his $5 billion demand for a wall and defend the move, making some interesting claims in the process. One such claim: That the Obamas have a wall around their house in Washington D.C. Like many of the president's claims, this one is a stretch.
"President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound," tweeted Trump on Monday. "I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!" According to The Washington Post, which keeps a running tally of inaccurate or misleading statements made the president, this claim too is false.
Trump was presumably referring to the Obama's new home in the Kalorama neighborhood, which has been home to several notable White House alumni, and is also where Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner currently live. Elite Daily reached out to the White House and a representative for the Obamas for comment but didn't receive a response at time of publication.
Per the Post, the house, purchased by the Obamas for $8.1 million in 2017, does not have a wall around it, at least in the sense of physically concealing the home. In fact, the 8,200-square-foot brick building is plainly visible from the street, as photos from the move-in during January 2017 show. (As an aside, for anyone wondering, Trump referring to the residence as a "mansion," according to Zillow, would be accurate as far as square footage. But for reference, as Forbes reports, Trump's own Manhattan penthouse is over 10,000 square feet, though he claimed it was over 33,000.)
As for the wall thing: It depends on your definition of a "Wall," but the Obama's changes to the facade of their property weren't all that staggering. A DailyMail article from January 2017 shows extended fencing under construction, with brickwork being added to an existing retaining wall at the sidewalk, and metal fencing going up as well.
The Post's Fact Check clarifies that while the Obamas made upgrades to the property to accommodate their security detail, the property is not a "compound" as Trump suggests. In addition to the fencing, a guard booth was added to the front of the house. Per the Post:
The Obamas added security fencing to an enlarged retaining wall in front for the needs of the Secret Service but there is not a ten-foot wall around the house; the front steps are open to the sidewalk. Chain link fencing, but no wall, was added to the back.
In fact, as one user on Twitter pointed out in reaction to Trump's claim, the more notable aspect of the security measures is that there's, well, actually security present. That is, there are Secret Service personnel guarding the house. "Of course, even if there was a fence at Obama's house or our southern border, it wouldn't keep anyone out unless there were guards monitoring it," tweeted MSNBC legal analyst Jill Wine-Banks.
The Post adds that an editor who visited the site on Monday morning following Trump's tweet found that besides security checkpoints at either end of the street, there did not appear to be any "10 foot walls" around the Obamas' residence. A neighbor reportedly confirmed that the house was "100 percent visible" from the street. Another neighbor described the Obamas' fencing along the front of the house as "tastefully done," and added, "It's the same as the other neighbors have."
Others on Twitter chimed in with their own pushback to Trump's tweet. As one user added, another obvious difference between the Obama's renovations and Trump's proposal is that one comes at taxpayer expense.
Others, including Fred Guttenberg, the father of one of the Parkland students who was killed in February, expressed concern that the claim by Trump would endanger the former president and his family.
Trump's tweet appeared to be in an effort to justify his demand for a border wall, which has become the key flashpoint over government spending and has resulted in a partial government shutdown now in its 10th day. Democrats in Congress have as of writing signaled they have no intention of giving into Trump's (and aligning with that, Republicans') demands for $5 billion in funding for such a wall. It's become increasingly unclear, too, whether the "wall" Trump seeks would amount to anything more than steel slats, as he mentioned in an Oval Office address on Dec. 21; in tweets on New Year's Eve, Trump suggested that the wall might take the shape of a partially cement, partially "see through" barrier.
Whether Trump's claim that the Obamas have a "10 foot wall" around their "mansion" helps his cause or not, it's still an iffy one.