WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump insists he never raised the idea of a moat filled with alligators and snakes and an electrified wall at the U.S. southern border. But he didn't push back on reports that he asked if the U.S. military could shoot at migrants crossing there, ABC News reports.
It was an emphatic denial.
"It was a lie. It was a total lie. It was corrupted reporting," Trump said.
The president was pushing back on a new report by the New York Times that he spoke to aides about building an electrified wall on the border, as well as a "water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators."
"They said I want a moat with alligators, snakes, electrified fence, so people get electrocuted and they so much if touched the fence, and spikes on top. Never said it, never thought of it," Trump said.
But the president notably did not comment on a detail in that New York Times report - that he asked whether the military could shoot migrants below the waist to slow them down.
That detail was confirmed to ABC News by a senior administration official who was in the room at the time, as well as several other sources later briefed on the conversation.
The president publicly floated a similar idea last November when talking about migrants throwing rocks.
"They're throwing rocks viciously and violently," Trump said Nov. 1, 2018 in the White House Roosevelt Room. "If they want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back."
Sources told ABC News that President Trump's aides discouraged the idea of shooting unarmed migrants and it was never acted upon. But the president brought it up again in a private meeting this spring when there was a significant spike in the number of undocumented migrants arriving at the border.