House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler said Sunday it’s “unforgivable” if President Trump promised to pardon Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan if he broke the law by denying entry to asylum seekers.
“This just shows the president’s contempt for law,” the New York Democrat said during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The comments come after CNN reported senior administration officials said the president told Mr. McAleenan, who has been named acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, he “would pardon him if he ever went to jail for denying U.S. entry to migrants.” It’s unclear if the president was joking.
The president, though, denied the reports, saying he never offered pardons to Homeland Security officials.
“At no time has the President indicated, asked, directed or pressured the Acting Secretary to do anything illegal. Nor would the Acting Secretary take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law,” a spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security told CNN,
Mr. Nadler also said the president has no legal right to transport migrants into sanctuary cities, which the president asserted was legal Saturday on Twitter.
“Just out: The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities. We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!” the president tweeted.
Mr. Nadler, though, accused Mr. Trump of using asylum seekers as pawns in a fight with political opponents.
“It’s another misuse of presidential power against the law,” he added.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, though, said the White House is reviewing the option, telling ABC News the preferred choice is to have Congress change immigration laws to help curb the flow of illegal immigrants.
“This is an option on the table,” she said Sunday. “We don’t want to put all of the burden on one or two border communities.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, said sanctuary cities themselves are illegal, but he also stressed it would be improper for the president to instruct anyone to break the law.
“You don’t get to pick and choose what laws you comply with,” Mr. Scott told CNN. “If you want to change the law you have to go through the legislature.”
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