Donald Trump could be in some major trouble for his reported instruction to the head of Border Patrol to break the law when dealing with asylum seekers.
This week, a number of news outlets independently reported that Trump had instructed acting Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan to defy the law and block entry for immigrants seeking asylum, who have a legal right to enter the country. As USA Today reported, the news outlets reported that Trump told McAleenan to close the border and said he “would pardon him if he ever went to jail for denying US entry to migrants.”
The Department of Homeland Security pushed back against the report, releasing a statement saying the president did not instruct McAleenan to do anything illegal.
“At no time has the President indicated, asked, directed or pressured the Acting Secretary to do anything illegal,” the department said in a statement. “Nor would the Acting Secretary take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law.”
The report noted that it was not clear if Donald Trump’s remarks were meant as a joke, but he has previously floated the idea of enacting policies that would run counter to existing laws on asylum-seekers. This has led to court challenges for many of Trump’s policies and court decisions, forcing the administration to back off some of these plans.
But legal expert David Priess believes the latest incident could lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment. Priess is the chief operating officer of Lawfare, a blog dedicated to national security issues, which is published by the Lawfare Institute in cooperation with the Brookings Institution.
Priess took to Twitter to note that articles of impeachment have been drawn for lesser offenses.
There have been articles of impeachment passed for less. https://t.co/vDs1doVbu1
— David Priess (@DavidPriess) April 12, 2019
Donald Trump has advocated for a hardline approach to immigration, and a report this week indicated that the White House had floated an idea of taking detained immigrants and dumping them off in sanctuary cities as a message to Trump’s political opponents. However, the plans were twice rebuffed by the department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Though the White House initially denied that these plans were being considered, Trump himself contradicted his own White House’s official statement, telling reporters he was still considering the idea.
“Important debates about the southern border horrors and coverage of accompanying policy squabbles in Congress have overshadowed a stream of excellent reporting about the extent to which the Trump Organization relies on undocumented migrant workers.” https://t.co/5DqlFpW2uJ
— Tim O'Brien (@TimOBrien) April 12, 2019
Donald Trump has faced other threats of impeachment from Democrats, but the party’s leadership has largely avoided threats to impeach the president — instead calling for the full Mueller report to be released before any discussions for impeachment related to allegations he obstructed justice in the probe.