Key House Democrats on Tuesday asked acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to prepare to testify about whether President Trump offered to pardon him if he breaks the law while taking a tougher stance on the border.
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, along with chairs of two subcommittees, said Mr. Trump overstepped his bounds when he said — perhaps jokingly — that he would offer the pardon.
“The reported discussion between you, President Trump, and other department personnel follows a troubling pattern of conduct that has emerged over the past two years that appears to demonstrate that President Trump views the pardon power as a political tool, or even worse, as an expedient mechanism for circumventing the law or avoiding the consequences of his own conduct,” the high-ranking Democrats wrote.
They also said Mr. Trump bungled the law when he reportedly suggested Mr. McAleenan start refusing entry to some migrants. Mr. Trump told Mr. McAleenan that when judges complained, he could tell them, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.’”
Democrats demanded Mr. McAleenan report back on who else heard his conversation with Mr. Trump, which occurred during a visit to the border in California earlier this month.
Reports of the comments on CNN fueled an already chaotic situation surrounding the southwest border.
Mr. Trump has also confirmed he is considering shipping some of the newly arrived illegal immigrants directly to sanctuary cities to be released, rather than releasing them in overwhelmed border communities.
Democrats, in their letter Tuesday, said they also want to learn more about a March 21 meeting between Mr. Trump and then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen where they reportedly discussed reinstating the zero-tolerance border policy that led in 2018 to family separations.
Ms. Nielsen was soon ousted from her job at the helm of Homeland Security and Mr. Trump orchestrated elevating Mr. McAleenan to the top post as acting secretary.