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By Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley

President Donald Trump has repeatedly advocated for a steel slat design for his border wall, which he described as “absolutely critical to border security” in his Oval Office address to the nation Tuesday. But Department of Homeland Security testing of a steel slat prototype proved it could be cut through with a saw, according to a report by DHS.

A photo exclusively obtained by NBC News shows the results of the test after military and Border Patrol personnel were instructed to attempt to destroy the barriers with common tools.

The Trump administration directed the construction of eight steel and concrete prototype walls that were built in Otay Mesa, California, just across the border from Tijuana, Mexico. Trump inspected the prototypes in March 2018. He has now settled on a steel slat, or steel bollard, design for the proposed border barrier additions. Steel bollard fencing has been used under previous administrations.

However, testing by DHS in late 2017 showed all eight prototypes, including the steel slats, were vulnerable to breaching, according to an internal February 2018 U.S. Customs and Border Protection report.

Photos of the breaches were not included in a redacted version of the CBP report, which was first obtained in a Freedom of Information Act Request by San Diego public broadcaster KPBS.

The photo of testing results obtained by NBC News was taken at the testing location along the California-Mexico border, known as “Pogo Row.”

Responding to the picture from the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday morning, Trump claimed “that’s a wall designed by previous administrations.”

While it is true that previous administrations used this design, the prototype was built during his administration.

“It’s very, very hard — the wall that we are doing is very, very hard to penetrate,” Trump said.

NBC News toured the eight wall prototypes twice before President Trump’s March 2018 inspection. According to San Diego Sector Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, the versions seen by NBC News and the president, however, were larger than the actual prototypes tested at “Pogo Row.”

In a statement, DHS Spokeswoman Katie Waldman said, “The steel bollard construction is based on the operational requirements of the United States Border Patrol and is a design that has been honed over more than a decade of use. It is an important part of Border Patrol’s impedance and denial capability.”

“While the design currently being constructed was informed by what we learned in the prototypes, it does not replicate those designs,” said Waldman. “The steel bollard design is internally reinforced with materials that require time and multiple industrial tools to breach, thereby providing U.S. Border Patrol agents additional response time to affect a successful law enforcement resolution. In the event that one of the steel bollards becomes damaged, it is quick and cost-effective to repair.

“The professionals on the border know that a wall system is intended not only to prevent entry, it is intended to defer and to increase the amount of time and effort it takes for one to enter so that we can respond with limited border patrol agents. Even a wall that is being breached is a valuable tool in that it allows us to respond to the attempted illegal entry.”

In response to KPBS, CBP spokesman Ralph DeSio said the prototypes “were not and cannot be designed to be indestructible,” but were designed to “impede or deny efforts to scale, breach, or dig under such a barrier, giving agents time to respond.”

In his address to the nation Tuesday, Trump said the steel fence design is “what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense.”

As a candidate, Trump promised to build an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful” wall on the border that would be paid for by Mexico. Before the Oval Office address, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to Congress requesting $5.7 billion for the construction of 234 miles of steel barrier.

Amid a government shutdown over his border wall proposal, Trump will travel to McAllen, Texas Thursday to make the case for building the additional border barrier.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D.-Miss., said there is “nothing special” about Trump’s wall design.

“President Trump likes to pretend a wall will solve all our problems, but it’s been clear for some time that it is little more than a very expensive vanity project,” said Thompson. “Whether steel or concrete, there is nothing special about his wall and it will not secure our borders. Democrats are willing to work with the administration to improve our border security, but let’s get back to proven and effective solutions.”

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BBC Question Time LIVE: Fiona Bruce hosts Tobias Ellwood and Nick Thomas-Symonds for show

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BBC Question Time comes tonight from Belfast where Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood and the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson will be giving their verdict on a seismic week in UK politics.

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No deal Brexit CRISIS PLANNING underway in Kent – schools told teachers may become CARERS

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A BREXIT gridlock threatens to leave pupils in Kent stranded, with the local council warning teachers they may have to pick up the children in their own cars.

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U.S. says “door wide open” to more talks with North Korea

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By Josh Lederman

WASHINGTON — Senior Trump administration officials Thursday said “the door is wide open” to more talks with North Korea after last month’s high-level talks in Hanoi failed to reach a nuclear agreement.

The officials told reporters that President Trump remains “personally engaged” and also wants contacts to occur on the working level, although they wouldn’t disclose whether any such contacts have occurred since the summit between the president and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Officials said the U.S. is working to tighten pressure on North Korea to “unprecedented” levels by better enforcing sanctions and other economic measures against the North.

“This is a new approach,” one senior official said. “You’ve had piecemeal sanctions over the years.”

Tougher pressure, combined with Trump’s willingness to sit down with Kim to discuss North Korea’s future, will hopefully lead North Korea to decide to denuclearize, the officials say.

“We’ll give it some time,” said one official.

The officials said there’s no been change to Trump’s diplomatic approach and that any suggestion that the U.S. was open to a phased approach in which some sanctions would be lifted before denuclearization was a “misinterpretation.” But asked about Trump’s own comments in Hanoi that he didn’t want to box himself in on that issue, the officials said that they, too, didn’t want to box the president in.

The U.S. sees an increasing problem with illicit shipping by North Korea in violation of U.S. and U.N. sanction, including ship-to-ship transfers at sea, the disabling of automated ship identification systems, falsification of cargo documentation, and North Korean coal exports that have resumed in the Gulf of Tonkin.

On Thursday, the Treasury Department slapped sanctions on two shipping company for trying to evade North Korea sanctions. These are the first sanctions since Hanoi.

The Treasury today also issued a new advisory warning about these practices.

Additional companies are “at risk” and will be punished if caught, the officials said.

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