After the disgusting human rights debacle last year that took place at our border with Mexico — when Jeff Sessions declared a new standing policy of prosecuting every person who crossed the border illegally, even if they were seeking asylum legally — there was outrage, sadness, and fury from Americans who were horrified that our nation had instituted a routine of separating children from their parents after crossing the border as a scare tactic and a punishment for having tried to enter.
There’s no shortage of obscenities I have in my mind for those responsible for implementing that horrorshow of a policy, but the fact is that the official stance of the Trump administration was that the policy did not exist.
When Sessions announced the policy of prosecution — which led directly to the family separations, since children cannot be kept in federal jail with their parents — it was April of last year. By the following month, Trump issued an executive order that reversed the policy he had directed Sessions to create. But amid the uproar that led to Trump issuing that order, the administration maintained that it was not planned in advance, despite Sessions having called it a policy of “deterrence.”
In fact, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said repeatedly in public, including in a tweet from her official government Twitter account, that the administration never had any such “policy” of separating families at the border:
We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) June 17, 2018
Then, in what would soon become a problem for Secretary Nielsen, she testified under oath before Congress in December 2018, the exact same thing.
That’s when Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon took an interest. A government whistleblower obtained a copy of an internal memo between officials in the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security dated four months before Sessions gave the prosecution order that showed they’d been planning such a policy all along.
Merkley told CNN yesterday that he had sent a request to FBI Director Chris Wray to open an investigation into Secretary Nielsen over the contradiction between her testimony under oath and the internal memo from December of 2017.
I am just sick and tired of this administration lying to the American people, lying to Congress, doing it under oath.”
Merkley’s letter to the FBI read in part,
I write to request an investigation to determine whether Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen committed perjury during her sworn testimony before the House Committee on the Judiciary on December 20, 2018. Compelling new evidence has emerged revealing that high-level Department of Homeland Security officials were secretly and actively developing a new policy and legal framework for separating families as far back as December 2017.”
If Nielsen goes down for perjury, it’s highly unlikely that she will want to go down alone. That could spell disaster for Trump, Sessions, and anyone who was involved in drafting the memo or implementing the policy.
Featured image via WhiteHouse.gov