Former Donald Trump aide Sam Nunberg says he isn’t seeking public credit for “the Wall,” the cornerstone of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that could soon lead to a government shutdown.
But Nunberg — who was fired by the campaign in August 2015 over a racist Facebook post dating from 2007 — says that, for the record, it was he and Nixon-tattooed Republican consultant Roger Stone who came up with the idea of a U.S.-Mexican border wall, and who first pitched it to Trump before he announced his candidacy in June 2015.
“There are plenty of ideas I had that the president didn’t accept, and the concept of the wall would only have worked with Donald Trump. I’m not looking for credit though. It was the right time, it was the right place. Just like his election,” he told TheWrap.
We reached out to Nunberg because of a largely overlooked passage in Joshua Green’s new book “Devil’s Bargain” that details how Trump initially seemed “indifferent” to the Wall when Nunberg and Stone first suggested it. Trump’s enthusiasm grew when he saw how a conservative audience at the Iowa Freedm Summit in January 2015 reacted to his mention of the Wall.
“One of the pledges was, I will build a Wall, and the place just went nuts,” Nunberg said in “Devil’s Bargain.”
We asked Nunberg what specifically inspired the Wall concept — “Game of Thrones”? The Great Wall of China? — but he said it was nothing specific. “It was a fun concept,” he said, noting that he and Stone first made the pitch back in the summer of 2014. “It was a simple policy point. It’s not esoteric. It goes with the Trump brand — builder. Nobody builds like Trump. It’s marketable.”
In August 2015, eight months after Trump first announced the Wall, his campaign fired Nunberg when Business Insider unearthed his old Facebook posts from years before — specifically one in which he called the Rev. Al Sharpton’s daughter the N-word.
Nunberg told TheWrap that he doesn’t remember writing the post — and that alcohol may have been involved. But he does take responsibility for it.
“I suffered serious consequences,” he says, adding that he has apologized to Sharpton, who accepted.
In July 2016, Trump sued Nunberg for $10 million, accusing him of breaching a confidentiality agreement. Nunberg told TheWrap the suit has been settled amicably and that he isn’t allowed to talk about it.
He said it took a long time to climb back from his mistake, but he now works in public affairs in New York.
Trump remains to so loyal to the Wall idea that he’s now threatening to shut down the government if Congress won’t fund it — something Nunberg says may be a negotiating tactic.
Initially, of course, Trump initially said Mexico would pay for the Wall. “The idea of Mexico paying for it — that was all Donald Trump,” Nunberg said.
The White House’s media team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.