A Department of Homeland Security official on Friday rejected a report by the New York Times alleging that the president had pressured DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan to close the southern border. He forgave him, if necessary.
A spokesman for the ministry confirmed Friday at Fox News that Trump had never "indicated, asked, directed or lobbied the interim secretary to do anything illegal," and that McAleenan did not " would never take steps against our responsibility the law. "
The Times, citing three sources close to the conversation, said Trump had "urged" McAleenan to close the southwestern border. In case of legal problems, the story is gone, Trump said he would forgive him.
NIELSEN BEGINS AS DHS SECRETARY AFTER WHITE HOUSE MEETING WITH TRUMP
The conversation would have taken place before Trump announced Sunday that McAleenan, the US Commissioner for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), would replace Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned.
Trump had threatened to close the border but after his trip to Calexico, California, last week, he seemed to back down.
The Times, however, said the president had lobbied in camera and Nielsen had warned it would be illegal. Two days later, she announced that she would leave her position.
The report states that Trump "encouraged" McAleenan to disregard his predecessor's warnings and respond to his request.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Sources told The Times that it was unclear whether Trump's alleged remarks were intended as a joke.
McAleenan is a long-time border services officer who previously practiced law in California and is perceived by some to be a permanent DHS secretary.
Kristin Brown and Frank Miles of Fox News contributed to this report.