Democrats plan an impassioned defense of embattled Deputy Homeland Security Secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas Thursday, stressing his qualifications while downplaying an ongoing inspector general investigation into allegations he helped the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton get a visa for a dodgy Chinese investor.
“Rather than allowing rumor, speculation, and innuendo to rule the day, this hearing will allow us to continue the process of vetting this nominee,” the opening statement of Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Thomas Carper, Delaware Democrat, said.
The committee’s senior Republican, Sen. Thomas Coburn of Oklahoma, has pushed for Mayorkas‘ nomination to be put on hold until the investigation is finished.
The probe was launched in September after a tip from the FBI. It centers on allegations Mr. Mayorkas, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), got a visa application granted after it was denied by CIS — and that denial was confirmed by the appeals process.
Sen. Carper noted that the investigation, overseen by an acting inspector general facing allegations of nepotism and abuse of travel expenses, has so far uncovered no evidence of wrong doing by Mr. Mayorkas and will likely “not be concluded in a timely manner.”
Aides released a copy of Mr. Carper’s opening statment hours ahead of the hearing Thursday morning — a move often by employed by those who wish to set the news agenda for an event.
On Monday evening, in an email to lawmakers which was promptly leaked to the press, the inspector general revealed the origin and outline of the investigation, saying it focused on a visa program called EB-5 that allows foreign investors to live in the United States if they pony up between $500,000 and $1 million.
Mr. Mayorkas allegedly intervened to ensure a visa application for a Chinese investor was granted for McLean-based Gulf Coast Funds Management.
Mrs. Clinton’s brother, Anthony Rodham, is president and CEO of the company, which bundles investment cash from foreigners who want to come to America on the EB-5 visa.
The visa program, and its use by Chinese businesses to invest in U.S. infrastructure projects, has raised security concerns in Congress and within the Obama administration.
Mr. Carper called the decision to inform lawmakers about the probe and leak the revelations to the press “rather unusual” and “rather questionable” — and insisted the nomination process move forward.
“I believe it would actually be irresponsible to leave the Department without a permanent deputy secretary until the investigation is completed – especially given that, as of September 7th, we will not have in place a Senate-confirmed Secretary to run the department.”
Secretary Janet A. Napolitano recently announced she is stepping down, meaning that seven senate-confirmable senior leadership posts are now vacant or about to become so. A further eight non-confirmable leadership post are also empty.