Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni and Eric Schmitt at NYT:
President Trump last week privately urged Kevin McAleenan, the border enforcement official he was about to name as acting secretary of homeland security, to close the southwestern border to migrants despite having just said publicly that he was delaying a decision on the step for a year, according to three people briefed about the conversation.Quinta Jurecic at The Atlantic:
It was not clear what Mr. Trump meant by his request or his additional comment to Mr. McAleenan that he would pardon him if he encountered any legal problems as a result of taking the action. Federal judges have already blocked the administration’s attempts to limit asylum seekers who illegally enter the country, and it is not likely that Mr. McAleenan would have ended up in jail if he had followed the president’s directive.
One of the people briefed on the conversation said it was possible Mr. Trump had intended the comments to Mr. McAleenan as a joke. But the conversation, which took place during the president’s visit to the border town of Calexico, Calif., alarmed officials at the Department of Homeland Security who were told of it, according to the people familiar with the remarks.
It was another instance of the president trying to undo a decision and to stretch the boundaries of his power, even when told there were legal issues at stake. The same situation played out on Friday, when Mr. Trump said he was considering releasing asylum seekers into so-called sanctuary cities after administration officials told reporters the proposal was rejected because of legal issues.
It is entirely reasonable to ask whether this, in itself, is an impeachable offense. Jamal Greene, a professor at Columbia Law School, sparked discussion on Twitter as to whether Trump’s actions might fall afoul of the Constitution’s requirement that the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of … Bribery”—the pardon being the bribe offered. The legal scholar Charles Black, in his 1974 Impeachment: A Handbook, suggests that a president’s choice to pardon “all government police who kill anybody under any circumstances” would be impeachable insofar as it is “obviously wrong, in [itself], to any person of honor.”
Another Fake Story on @NBCNews that I offered Pardons to Homeland Securiy personnel in case they broke the law regarding illegal immigration and sanctuary cities. Of course this is not true. Mainstream Media is corrupt and getting worse, if that is possible, every day!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2019