White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday rejected reports that President Donald Trump preemptively offered his top border official a pardon if he were jailed for illegally blocking migrant asylum seekers from entering the United States.
“We’re a country of laws and we have a president who supports that and is not asking anybody to do anything outside of those bounds,” Sanders told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”
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“In fact, he’s asking Congress to step up and give greater legal standing so they can do more to stop this crisis,” Sanders said. “No one’s trying to skirt the law and certainly not being encouraged by the president to do so.”
CNN and The New York Times reported Friday that Trump ordered Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to deny entry to migrants at the southern border — potentially in violation of U.S. law — during a visit to Calexico, Calif., earlier this month.
Trump also said he would grant McAleenan a presidential pardon if he faced legal penalties for ordering agents to carry out the directive, according to the reports, although it is unclear whether the president’s comment was intended as a joke.
“Look George, I don’t know about you, but CNN isn’t usually my first stop for a good source, particularly not when it comes to this president,” Sanders said Sunday, adding that Trump “is actually trying to enforce laws, not go around them.”
Trump last week tapped McAleenan to lead the Department of Homeland Security following the departure of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“Of course this is not true,” the president tweeted of the reports on Friday. “Mainstream Media is corrupt and getting worse, if that is possible, every day!”
Trump offered another defense on via Twitter on Saturday, writing online: “I never offered Pardons to Homeland Security Officials, never ordered anyone to close our Southern Border (although I have the absolute right to do so, and may if Mexico does not apprehend the illegals coming to our Border), and am not ‘frustrated.’ It is all Fake & Corrupt News!”