News reports indicate that President Donald Trump told the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, he would pardon him if he were arrested as a result of blocking asylum seekers from entering the country. Trump made the comment during his recent visit to the border at Calexico, California, according to two senior administration officials.
The White House declined to comment, referring the story, which broke via CNN, to the Department of Homeland of Security. A DHS spokesperson then pushed back against it.
“At no time has the President indicated, asked, directed or pressured the Acting Secretary to do anything illegal,” the spokesperson said. “Nor would the Acting Secretary take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law.”
Given the president’s increasingly aggressive campaigns against migrants seeking asylum, an issue to which he’s dedicated a lot of thought to as evidenced by his many tweets on the subject, this isn’t a statement people are willing to believe.
Trump did this despite claiming he would defer a decision on closing the border for a year a day earlier. And at a time when he knew he wanted to make McAleenan the next DHS sec/was preparing to get rid of Nielsen https://t.co/rcxD27XI5a
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 12, 2019
Trump telling Kevin McAleenan he will be pardoned If arrested for violating immigration laws is an egregious manipulation of his power and shows he has no respect for the law or constitution
— alicia ♀ (@ohmygodalicia) April 12, 2019
This is abuse of power, and impeachable, if true and Trump was serious.
They should not wait. @RepCummings @OversightDems need to IMMEDIATELY call McAleenan and others in. And if Trump did this, they need to draw up impeachment, for using his office to encourage breaking laws. https://t.co/YkwYAFy7aV
— Eric Schmeltzer (@JustSchmeltzer) April 12, 2019
It was Justin Miller, the national editor for The Daily Beast, who pointed out that the president pardoned former Arizona law enforcement officer Joe Arpaio for not obeying a court order barring him from conducting further “immigration round-ups.”
Remember, Trump pardoned Arpaio who was convicted of contempt of court for not obeying a court order re: immigrants
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) April 12, 2019
Representative Kathleen Rice (D-NY) has already promised to investigate, saying that McAleenan will “eventually have to testify before” the House Committee on Homeland Security.
As Acting DHS Secretary, Kevin McAleenan will eventually have to come testify before @HomelandDems.
And you can bet I will ask him about this incident. https://t.co/byixW7hzcL
— Kathleen Rice (@RepKathleenRice) April 12, 2019