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Homeland Security denies NYT report that Trump directed McAleen to close border and offered him a potential pardon

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Homeland Security denies NYT report that Trump directed McAleen to close border and offered him a potential pardon

A Department of Homeland Security official dismissed a report by The New York Times on Friday alleging that the president pressured Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan to close the southern border and offered him a pardon if the need arose.

A spokesperson with the department confirmed to Fox News on Friday that Trump has never “indicated, asked, directed or pressured the acting secretary to do anything illegal,” and said McAleenan would never “take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law.”

The Times, citing three sources familiar with the conversation, said Trump “urged” McAleenan to close the southwestern border. In the event of legal troubles, the story went, Trump said he’d pardon him.

NIELSEN RESIGNS AS DHS SECRETARY AFTER WHITE HOUSE MEETING WITH TRUMP

The conversation was said to have taken place before Trump announced on Sunday that McAleenan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner at the time, would replace Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned.

Trump had made threats to close the border but after his trip to Calexico, Calif., last week, he seemed to back down.

The Times report, however, alleged that the president privately pushed for the matter behind closed doors and was told by Nielsen that doing so would be illegal. Two days later she announced she would be leaving her post.

The report stated that Trump “encouraged” McAleenan to disregard his predecessor’s warning and move forward with his request.

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Sources told the Times that it was unclear if Trump’s alleged remarks were meant as a joke.

McAleenan is a longtime border officer, who previously practiced law in California and is seen by some as potentially taking the job of DHS secretary permanently.

Fox News’ Kristin Brown and Frank Miles contributed to this report.

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George Conway calls Trump a cancer that needs to be removed in blistering op-ed

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George Conway calls Trump a cancer that needs to be removed in blistering op-ed

George Conway, the husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and a fierce critic of President Trump, penned an op-ed in The Washington Post that calls Trump a “cancer on the presidency” and urged Congress to take action to remove him from office.

After 22 months, a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia interference report was made available to the public. The report showed no evidence that Trump’s team “coordinated or conspired” with Russia, but many Democrats pointed out that Mueller identified 10 times where there was potential obstruction, and essentially left the next steps up to Congress.

Mueller wrote that Trump’s efforts to obstruct “were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels.”

READ THE FULL REPORT 

He continued, “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

Trump’s team late Thursday appeared to take a wait-and-see approach on how the public absorbed the findings. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, seemed to be in no particular hurry to release a 45-page rebuttal when asked about it on CNN.  The White House claimed total victory and vindication for the president

Conway, who has clashed publically with the president before and questioned his mental fitness, barely touches collusion in his piece but highlighted the obstruction argument.

“Mueller couldn’t say, with any “confidence,” that the president of the United States is not a criminal. He said, stunningly, that “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.” Mueller did not so state,” Conway wrote.

He pointed out that even if Trump did not reach the threshold of criminality, he could still be impeached based on earlier precedent. He called on Congress to act to “excise” the cancer in the White House “without delay.”

There is no love lost between Trump and Conway. Trump has called Conway a “stone cold LOSER & husband from hell.”

MUELLER REPORT THE ‘BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING’: AXIOS EDTIOR

“George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!” Trump tweeted in March.

Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, wrote in the New York Post that Trump could have simply shut down the investigation and assert executive privilege to “deny the special counsel access to key White House witnesses,” but he didn’t.

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“Most important, the special counsel found that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that the president’s frustration wasn’t over fear of guilt — the typical motivation for obstruction — but that the investigation was undermining his ability to govern the country,” McCarthy wrote.

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Ambassador Grenell: Mayor Buttigieg pushing ‘Jussie Smollett’ hate hoax against Pence

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Mike Pence hits back at Pete Buttigieg after criticism: 'He knows better'

The U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, defended Vice President Mike Pence against accusations of homophobia alleged by Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and compared the claims to a “hate hoax along the lines of Jussie Smollett.”

“Mayor Pete has been pushing this hate hoax along the lines of Jussie Smollett for a very long time now, several weeks,” Grenell, who is openly gay, said Thursday on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

Smollett, an actor, is accused of faking a hate crime and is currently being sued by the city of Chicago.

ROB SMITH: I’M GAY AND SUPPORT MIKE PENCE — DON’T BELIEVE PETE BUTTIGIEG’S CLAIM THAT PENCE IS ANTI-GAY

Buttigieg, who is openly gay and was once cordial with Pence, has boosted criticism of the vice president calling him anti-gay.

“This is someone who was against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ who felt it was too pro-gay.  He wanted to make sure even closeted of couldn’t serve,” Buttigieg said Tuesday about Pence on CNN.

Grenell, who called Pence a friend, accused the mayor of South Bend of drumming up accusations to boost fundraising and asked why he didn’t speak up while Pence was the governor of Indiana.

“It’s ironic that right about now when he’s starting his fund-raising apparatus to run for president that he comes up with this… idea and this attack,” Grenell said.

The ambassador defended Pence and his wife and cited their Christianity and said the couple “accepted” Grendell and his partner.

“Mike and Karen are great people, they’re godly people, they’re followers of Christ.  They don’t have hate in their heart for anyone. They know my partner, they have accepted us. You asked me do we agree philosophically on every single issue? No,” Grendell said adding that he disagrees with other people he respects.

BUTTIGIEG, ONCE CORDIAL TO PENCE, NOW CRITICAL AMID CAMPAIGN

Grendell chastised the gay community for shifting from a group about tolerance to a group that demands “we all think alike” before noting that Pence has always supported Buttigieg.

“When Mayor Pete came out, the vice president complimented him and said he holds him in high regard. The vice president or then governor has said nothing but positive things about Mayor Pete. I think this is a total hate hoax and I think it’s outrageous,” Grenell said.

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Trump’s written — at times snarky — answers to Mueller’s questions revealed

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Why the Mueller report could turn into a never-ending story on the Hill

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump communicated directly at one point during the long-running investigation into Russian election interference, when the president’s legal team submitted written testimony in response to Mueller’s questions on a variety of topics in November 2018.

And in some cases, Trump and his attorneys brought the sass.

One of Mueller’s questions referred to a July 2016 campaign rally, when Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

That was a reference to the slew of documents deleted from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server — one that prompted numerous accusations that Trump was improperly sending a signal to Russian hackers. Mueller’s report noted that hours after Trump’s remarks, a Russian-led attempt to access some Clinton-linked email accounts was launched, although there was no evidence Trump or his team directed or coordinated with that effort.

“Why did you make that request of Russia, as opposed to any other country, entity or individual?” Mueller’s prosecutors asked.

Mueller’s report noted that after Trump’s statement, future National Security Adviser Flynn contacted operatives in hopes of uncovering the documents, and another GOP consultant started a company to look for the emails.

“I made the statement quoted in Question II (d) in jest and sarcastically, as was apparent to any objective observer,” Trump’s attorneys shot back. “The context of the statement is evident in the full reading or viewing of the July 27, 2016, press conference, and I refer you to the publicly available transcript and video of that press conference.”

Separately, Mueller asked Trump why he previewed a speech in June 2016 by promising to discuss “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” and what specifically he’d planned to talk about.

Trump didn’t hold back.

“In general, l expected to give a speech referencing the publicly available, negative information about the Clintons, including, for example, Mrs. Clinton’s failed policies, the Clintons’ use of the State Department to further their interests and the interests of the Clinton Foundation, Mrs. Clinton’s improper use of a private server for State Department business, the destruction of 33,000 emails on that server, and Mrs. Clinton’s temperamental unsuitability for the office of the president,” Trump responded.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE ‘BOMBSHELLS’ THAT FIZZLED? BUZZFEED’S COHEN TESTIMONY SCOOP, THE GOP PLATFORM SWITCH, ETC?

After discussing other events, Trump concluded his reply: “I continued to speak about Mrs. Clinton’s failings throughout the campaign, using the information prepared for inclusion in the speech to which I referred on June 7, 2016.”

In all, Mueller’s 448-page report included 23 unredacted pages of Mueller’s written questions and Trump’s written responses. The special counsel’s team wrote that it tried to interview the president for more than a year before relenting and permitting the written responses alone.

An introductory note included in the report said the special counsel’s office found the responses indicative of “the inadequacy of the written format,” especially given the office’s inability to ask follow-up questions.

Click here for the full exchange between Mueller’s team and Trump.

Citing dozens of answers that Mueller’s team considered incomplete, imprecise or not provided because of the president’s lack of recollection — for instance, the president gave no response at all to the final set of questions — the special counsel’s office again sought an in-person interview with Trump, and he once again declined.

Mueller’s team said it considered seeking a subpoena to compel Trump’s in-person testimony, but decided the legally aggressive move would only serve to delay the investigation.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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