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Trump Told Homeland Security Official to Close Border and Promised He'd Pardon Him
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13 Apr 2019 10:34 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Public domain)

 

It turns out that what Donald Trump says publicly cannot be trusted. Not that it's a surprise really, as he's well known for his lies, but this is confirmation that he tells the public what he wants them to hear.

 

While the president said publicly that he was delaying for a year his earlier desire to close the border to Mexico, three people briefed on the conversation report that he told Kevin McAleenan to close the border to migrants just before he was named acting secretary of Homeland Security. 

Exactly what Trump meant was not clear, but he promised to pardon him as well if he ran into any legal roadblocks from taking that measure. This indicates he knows he doesn't have the legal recourse to do so. Federal judges have told him he can't follow through with his earlier plan to limit asylum-seekers from entering the United States.

 

One of the sources believes it's possible Trump had told McAleenan during his visit to Calexico, California, to close the border as a joke. But DHS officials most not have thought of the request as a joke, as they were alarmed. 

The day before he told McAleenan to close the border, he had backed off that plan. He said he was instead issuing a "one-year warning" to Mexico to put an end to illegal immigration and drug trafficking. But privately he was still pushing his aides to stop the asylum-seekers from crossing the border.

 

Nielsen was still the secretary of DHS at the time. She had earlier refused to act on Trump's suggestion to close the border, insisting that it was illegal. It wasn't the first time she was asked to break the law. 

Trump told McAleenan in his request to disregard the secretary. Two days later he pressured her to resign and named McAleenan acting secretary.

 

The president was considering McAleenan as Nielsen's successor when he made the request, already knowing he was going to eliminate her from the position.  

Tyler Q. Houlton, a spokesman for DHS denies this took place. "At no time has the president indicated, asked, directed or pressured the acting secretary to do anything illegal," he said. "Nor would the acting secretary take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law."

 

A similar situation played out on Friday. Officials with the administration knocked down rumors that Trump wanted to release asylum-seekers into sanctuary cities as a way of retaliating against Democrats. After they said the idea was rejected shortly after its suggestion, Trump said the plan was still on the table. 

All of it shows that Trump will do anything to show his base that he is fixing the problem at the border. While he fought to build a wall for two years, insisting it would solve the problem, once he procured the money for that by declaring a national emergency,  he moved on to other means of stopping the flow of migrants.

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