Build the wall! Build the wall!” was the auditorium-filling chant which soundtracked Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
But the US president’s core electoral promise of a concrete border wall, paid for by Mexico to keep out the “bad hombres”, will be neither paid for by Mexico nor a wall – even if funding for it is eventually approved by Congress.
And Mr Trump has known this since “early on in the administration”, according to outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly.
“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Mr Kelly told the Los Angeles Times this weekend, in a wide-ranging interview published a day before his departure.
“The president still says ‘wall’. Oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward ‘steel slats’. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it,” Mr Kelly said.”