In 2022, former President Donald Trump called Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the three main negotiators of a sweeping immigration overhaul and foreign aid bill now in the Senate, ”Strong on the Border.”
On Monday, Trump said incorrectly that he had not endorsed him and that the border bill would be bad for Lankford’s political career.
“Just to correct the record, I did not endorse Sen. Lankford. I didn’t do it,” Trump said in a telephone interview with right-wing commentator Dan Bongino.
“He ran, and I did not endorse him,” Trump said.
Except Trump actually did endorse Lankford, who won in a walkover of a reelection contest.
In his Sept. 27, 2022, statement endorsing Lankford, Trump called him “a very good man, with a fabulous wife and family, loves the State of Oklahoma, and is working very hard on trying to Save our Country from the disaster that it is in.”
“James Lankford is Strong on the Border, Tough on Crime, and Very Smart on the Economy,” Trump’s statement said. “It is my great honor to give James Lankford my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
An email seeking comment from a Trump campaign spokesperson did not get an immediate response.
None of Trump’s glowing 2022 enthusiasm is apparent now that Lankford has emerged as the leading GOP voice to get a deal done on overhauling immigration and asylum procedures in the wake of an influx of undocumented migrants showing up on the U.S.-Mexico border.
But though many Republicans had endorsed at least the concept of a deal to toughen up border security in exchange for aid to Ukraine when negotiators began meeting months ago, that tune has changed as Trump has made it clear he opposes the border bill.
Trump made that clear again in his interview Monday with Bongino.
“This is a very bad bill for his career and especially in Oklahoma,” Trump said of Lankford. “I know those people. They’re great people. They’re not going to be happy about this.”
Lankford, in an appearance on CNN, brushed off Trump’s comments.
“He has a different job than I have right now. His job right now is running for president. He’s trying to be able to manage that, and obviously a chaotic border is helpful to him in the process on that,” Lankford said.