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President Trump really wants his border wall fully built before the 2020 election — so badly, in fact, he’s reportedly willing to pardon administration officials who break the law to do it.
Trump is urging administration officials to seize private land through eminent domain and even ignore environmental rules, current and former officials involved in the wall told the Washington Post. “Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” officials said Trump told them in meetings.
That’s not the first time reports have surfaced of Trump offering to pardon administration officials who break the law while enforcing his hard-line immigration agenda.
Trump reportedly told Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, that he would pardon him if he were arrested for instructing Border Patrol officers to block asylum-seekers from entering the U.S., senior administration officials told CNN in April. McAleenan was serving as the head of Customs and Border Protection at the time.
At the time, DHS denied CNN’s report. Since then, White House officials have also denied that Trump has seriously considered pardoning any members of his administration who commit crimes. One official who spoke to the Post anonymously said the president’s statements about pardoning wrongdoers in his administration are just jokes.
But Trump has a pattern of pardoning people who share his views on issues like immigration.
In 2017, Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff convicted of criminal contempt after refusing to stop racially profiling Latinos in Maricopa County. Trump didn’t consult the Justice Department before pardoning Sheriff Joe, breaking with presidential tradition.
A year later, Trump pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, a right-wing author who was convicted of making illegal campaign contributions. He’s also pardoned Conrad Black, a close friend and author of a flattering Trump biography who was convicted of fraud in 2007, and Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
The president has also looked into pardoning himself, members of his family, and Cabinet officials in relation to the Mueller probe, the Washington Post reported in 2017.
Cover image: In this March 15, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump signs the first veto of his presidency in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)