The latest firestorm surrounding President Trump is over a report that he told then-CBP chief Kevin McAleenan that if he goes to jail for stopping migrants at the border, the President would pardon him.
BREAKING: In Calexico, CA last week, where POTUS told border agents to block asylum-seekers from entering the US contrary to law, Trump told CBP head McAleenan if he were sent to jail as a result, the president would pardon him, 2 Sr admin officials tell me.
More on @CNN…
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 12, 2019
Before we get into the details of the incident in question, let’s start with a disclaimer. Chances are very high that if the President really did say it, he was joking. I’ve had many disagreements with how the President handles situations and in particular the words he uses when communicating, but this certainly seems more like a careless joke than an actual instruction to break the law.
3/ ”…Nor would the Acting Secretary take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 12, 2019
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the issue with a brief civics lesson. The legislature makes the laws. The judiciary interprets them. The executive branch enforces them. That’s how America works. At no point should a member of the executive branch instruct anyone to break the law. This applies to every person in the executive branch but is especially true for the President of the United States. It applies to instructing any American, but is especially true for law enforcement officials.
If the President was joking, it was not an appropriate joke to make over such a serious issue unless it was done in a way that was absolutely and unambiguously stated in jest with zero chance of the order being taken seriously. Even then it would be in bad form.
If the President wasn’t joking, it’s impeachable as a betrayal to his oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.
Those are the stakes here, and the only testimony that would count is if McAleenan himself were to speak on the topic. It doesn’t matter what “senior White House officials” overheard it or how the press tries to frame it. If McAleenan either denies it was said or states that it was very clearly a joke, then this is a nothingburger. If it was said in a way that could have possibly been construed as an actual promise, then the President is in real trouble.
But he probably won’t be. If it were serious, McAleenan strikes me as the kind of person who would have pushed back immediately to the implication that the President of the United States was promising a future favor in exchange for members of law enforcement being ordered to break the law.
That’s one of the biggest problem with President Trump. His “straight talk” style makes it difficult for those serving under him to know exactly how to react to him. When you throw in an unhinged leftist media dying to find dirt on him, we get these controversies popping up as major distractions to the real issue.
The bottom line is this: The border crisis is real and must be addressed. To address it properly requires adherence to and enforcement of the law. This latest “bombshell” is distracting from the real threat that’s growing at the border daily.
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