Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K.’s Brexit party, gained entry to the United States to attend President Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally despite the current ban on Britons entering the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Per the Department of Homeland Security, Farage was able to skirt the ban after his visit was designated to be “in the national interest.”
“On June 19, Mr. Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Brexit Party, was denied boarding while attempting to fly from the United Kingdom to the United States,” a DHS spokesperson told TPM in a statement. “The initial denial of boarding was made pursuant to a March 14 Presidential Proclamation that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, suspends the entry into the United States of certain foreign nationals who recently have been present in the United Kingdom.”
“After conducting a thorough review of the relevant facts and circumstances, DHS determined Mr. Farage’s travel to be permissible under Section 2 (a)(xi) of the Presidential Proclamation: any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees authorizing Mr. Farage to board his flight,” the spokesperson added.
DHS did not answer TPM’s questions about why attending a Trump rally is in the national interest, or who designated it as such.
Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf Monday requesting a tranche of documents related to Farage’s trip.
“The decision of the Trump Administration to admit Mr. Farage to the United States to enable him to attend a campaign rally at a time when most travel from the United Kingdom to the U.S. has been suspended raises numerous troubling questions, as does the claim that such travel was in the national interest,” he wrote.
He’s requesting the information, including who designated Farage’s trip as in the national interest and what justification he or she gave, by June 26.
Farage posted a picture of himself Saturday giving a grin and thumbs up, “only twenty four hours from Tulsa.”
A Washington Post reporter snapped a picture of Farage backstage before the rally began.
Nigel Farage backstage at the “Team Trump on Tour” part of the rally, a series of panel discussions for the crowd outside pic.twitter.com/OvnRscaEuQ
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) June 20, 2020
Trump and Farage’s friendliness is no secret — Farage appeared onstage with Trump at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi in 2016, where he addressed the nonplussed crowd about the Brexit debate and U.S. election.
“I will say this: if I was an American citizen, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me!” Farage told the crowd, many of whom had never before heard of him.