The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday requested information from acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan regarding reports that President Donald Trump offered him a pardon should he be found to have violated the law by following Trump’s direction to close the border.
“A corrupt pardon offer would violate the Constitution’s command that the president ‘faithfully’ execute the law,” read a letter to McAleenan, first reported by CNN, from committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.
“Offering a pardon to encourage an officer of the U.S. government to undertake an illegal action appears on its face to be an unconstitutional abuse of power,” the letter continued. “To interpret the Constitution otherwise would permit the Executive Branch to undermine the constitutional role the coequal branches play in creating and enforcing the law.”
The letter cited reports that Trump directed border agents to refuse migrants at the border, a violation of the law, and that he offered a pardon to McAleenan if he was found to have broken the law by ordering the border closed.
CNN first reported on April 8 that, during a meeting with border agents and leadership a few days earlier, Trump instructed the agents to close the border and expel the migrants they arrested, even though every undocumented person has a legal right to claim asylum once in the United States regardless of whether they crossed the border illegally.
Trump reportedly told the agents “if judges give you trouble, say, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.’” After he left the room, the agents’ leaders reportedly told them they’d be legally liable if they carried out the President’s direction.
Read the Judiciary Committee’s Democrats’ letter below: