U.S. President Donald Trump wanted a trench filled with snakes and alligators along an electric-charged border wall topped with flesh-piercing spikes, The New York Times reports.
The newspaper says the president also suggested U.S. soldiers shoot migrants in the legs if they try to cross into the United States before staffers talked him out of it.
The Times says it based its story on interviews with more than a dozen White House officials who met with Trump on ways to stop illegal migration from Central America across the Mexican border.
Although it is unclear how serious Trump was about such proposals as a snake-filled moat, the Times paints a picture of an extremely angry president, frustrated by his administration’s inability to stop the flow of migrants, the failure of his department heads to carry out his orders, and what he regarded as their moderate approach to tackling the crisis.
The news report focuses on an Oval Office meeting in March where Trump ordered the entire 3,200-kilometer border with Mexico shut down by noon the next day.
White House aides and advisors, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, tried to talk him out of it.
"You're making me look like an idiot," Trump is reported as shouting to those in attendance. "I ran on this. It's my issue."
Witnesses say the president cursed and ranted as he demanded a total border closure before the meeting broke up. The Times say it took nearly a week for aides to talk him out of it as not only impractical, but economically destructive.
The report says Trump had especially harsh treatment for Nielsen, regarding her as weak. He appeared to show little patience the few times she challenged him, including his proposal to shoot down drones at the border and that the government simply take land for a wall without permission from property owners. Nielsen resigned in April.
The White House has not yet commented on the report. But Trump frequently refers to the newspaper as the "failing" New York Times, regarding it as a purveyor of fake news and having a liberal bias.