U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable discussion on immigration and border security at the U.S. Border Patrol Calexico Station before visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, California, April 5, 2019.
U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable discussion on immigration and border security at the U.S. Border Patrol Calexico Station before visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, California, April 5, 2019.

In a series of tweets Saturday night, President Donald Trump denied reports that he asked a border control official to close the U.S. border with Mexico, and that he offered to pardon the official if he faced legal problems for doing so.

On Friday, The New York Times and CNN reported that last week Trump asked Kevin McAleenan, then the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border to stop migrants from coming into the U.S. McAleenan has since been named the acting secretary of homeland security after the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen on April 10.

Both news organizations cited unnamed administration officials as sources in their reports. The Times report also suggested “it was possible Mr. Trump had intended the comments to Mr. McAleenan as a joke.”

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin M
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan (C) announced that the Trump administration will temporarily reassign several hundred border inspectors during a news conference at the border in El Paso, Texas, March 27, 2019.

On Friday, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying: “At no time has the president indicated, asked, directed or pressured the acting secretary to do anything illegal. Nor would the acting secretary take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law.”

Saturday evening, Trump used social media to issue his own denial, tweeting that he “never offered Pardons to Homeland Security Officials, never ordered anyone to close our Southern Border (although I have the absolute right to do so, and may if Mexico does not apprehend the illegals coming to our Border), and am not ‘frustrated.’ ’’ 

In his tweets, the president took aim at the Times, saying the newspaper didn’t call the White House to verify its facts, and predicting the 167-year-old newspaper would be gone in six years.