Of course, the White House says President Trump was only ‘joking’ about pardons.
President Trump is so keen to complete his border wall by 2020 that he’s told aides to dole out construction contracts, seize private lands and discount environmental rules.
The flurry of orders has brought concerns that the commander-in-chief’s orders may not be legal. However, Trump has taken to reassuring aides: anyone who’s caught or prosecuted for breaking the law will receive a presidential pardon.
According to the Washington Post, President Trump may believe that his border wall is what will determine the success of his 2020 campaign. With his fence existing only on paper, Trump is pushing his side of Washington to sate his supporters.
“When aides have suggested that some orders are illegal or unworkable,” the Post wrote, “Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they just goa head.”
The president has purportedly waved away eminent domain concerns, too, telling aides to simply “take the land,” no matter who it might belong to.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” he’s repeatedly said.
One aide recounted: “He said people expected him to build a wall, and it had to be done by the election.”
Construction crews continue work on the new border wall system along the SW border near San Luis, AZ. In partnership with @USACEHQ, CBP has constructed over 60 miles of new border wall system along the SW border since 2017 and expects to complete 450 miles by the end of 2020. pic.twitter.com/ZMVqVteMUN
— CBP (@CBP) August 25, 2019
Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley, speaking on the rumors Tuesday, said Trump’s joking about pardons but serious about protecting the country’s borders.
“Donald Trump promised to secure our borders with sane, rational immigration policies to make American communities safer, and that’s happening everywhere the wall is being built,” Gidley said. Any complaints about the president coming from within the White House, says Gidley, are “just more fabrications by people who hate the fact that the status quo, that has crippled this country for decades, is finally changing as President Trump is moving quicker than anyone in history to build the wall, secure the border and enact the very immigration policies the American people voted for.”
“President Trump,” said Gidley, “is fighting aggressively for the American people where other leaders in the past have rolled over, sold out, and done absolutely nothing.”
The Post adds that much of the funds heading towards the border were initially intended for other purposes: $3.6 billion of the appropriated money was supposed to go to the Pentagon. Trump used executive orders and an emergency declaration to secure funds for his pet project after Congress refused to approve it.
Many of the president’s other ideas, outlined by the Post and administration officials, seem geared toward winning votes and instilling fear than practicality. For instance, Trump has purportedly conceded that a border wall isn’t the best way to prevent illegal immigration—but because he promised a wall to his supporters, Trump says he has to build one. Likewise, he’s instructed contractors and Army engineers to remove features—like mounted discs meant to dissuade climbing–from existing tracts of wall, calling them unsightly.