Trump Once Told Students to Never Let a Wall Get in Their Way

“If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it.”

Long before President Donald Trump threatened to “maybe, definitely” declare a national emergency over his $5 billion demands for funds to build a border wall, the former real estate magnate once offered a very different—if not inspirational—message about concrete walls.

“I’ll tell you, to me, the second most important thing after love what you do is never, ever give up,” Trump said during a 2004 commencement speech at Wagner College in Staten Island. “Don’t give up. Don’t allow it to happen.”

“If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it,” he continued. “Go over it. Go around it. But get to the other side of that wall.”

The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah unearthed the 2004 speech during a segment that aired Wednesday, the 18th day of a partial government shutdown that has left nearly 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working without pay.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend