President Trump continues to be plagued by leakers. Two from the summer were Kevin McAleenan, still in situ, and Madeleine Westerhout, who resigned abruptly last week.
When I last posted, on Bastille Day, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan was thought to have leaked information about a nationwide ICE operation, which was to have taken place earlier in July.
McAleenan, who had been U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, replaced Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
On July 16, Breitbart posted a damning article on McAleenan, citing various sources pointing the finger at him for the leak:
At the time of the leaks, former ICE Director Thomas Homan accused Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan of “resisting” the ICE operation.
Officials who spoke to Breitbart News on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said that internally at DHS, McAleenan has become known for leaking records to the media.
One law enforcement officer interviewed said:
Over time, the acting secretary and his staff have developed a prolific reputation for leaking confidential, private or privileged information to the news media. This is well known, and the instance involving the disclosure of ICE operational details comes without much surprise. One must accept that McAleenan isn’t leaking to help his boss, which is a calculated risk.
Another official told Breitbart:
It was widely known Kevin and his team constantly leaked sensitive information to the press while at a CBP. McAleenan always leaked the monthly border numbers and consistently undermined the Department’s ability to carry out its mission.
Publicly, at least, McAleenan appears to be on message. On July 18, he tweeted:
Smugglers will use any means necessary to get customers. Everybody knows that if they have a child they’ll be allowed to stay in the U.S.–they call it a “passport” to migration. The cartels are getting paid and the child is being put at risk. https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4808369/acting-secretary-mcaleenan-discusses-children-
On July 23, he issued a new designation of aliens subject to expedited removal, effective immediately. The DHS press release reads, in part:
The new designation harmonizes expedited removal for aliens arriving by land with the longstanding process for aliens arriving by sea, and applies to certain aliens encountered between 14 days and two years of entry within 100 miles of the border, or within two years of entry anywhere in the United States. The new designation is separate from, but complements, a 2004 designation that applies to aliens encountered within 14 days of entry and within 100 miles of the border.
The designation does not apply to unaccompanied children or true asylum seekers:
Consistent with current law and practice, unaccompanied alien children are not subject to expedited removal under the new or any previous designation. Additionally, any alien who indicates an intention to apply for asylum or expresses a fear of persecution, of torture, or of returning to his or her country, will be referred for an interview with an asylum officer.
Three days later, McAleenan signed an agreement with Guatemala to send some migrants arriving in the US back to the Latin American country. Homeland Security has a Twitter thread on the arrangement, excerpted below:
Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security
@DHSMcAleenan signed a cooperative agreement regarding the examination of protection claims with the Minister of Government of Guatemala, Enrique Antonio Degenhart …
Migrants can make a protection claim in Guatemala. So if they arrive in the US not having availed themselves of that opportunity, they’ll be returned to Guatemala.
Guatemala has already been delivering results in stopping the flow of irregular migration and disrupting human smuggling and transnational criminal organizations. This agreement will build on that success to keep driving forward.
Breitbart covered an interview with McAleenan on the agreement, which will help relieve pressure on migration centres. Their article points out that it did not go as far as President Trump wanted:
… officials in Guatemala have backed away from a proposed comprehensive immigration reform deal that would require migrants passing through Guatemala to ask for asylum before traveling onto the United States.
Guatemala, which has been forming Caravans and sending large numbers of people, some with criminal records, to the United States, has decided to break the deal they had with us on signing a necessary Safe Third Agreement. We were ready to go. Now we are looking at the “BAN,”….
….Tariffs, Remittance Fees, or all of the above. Guatemala has not been good. Big U.S. taxpayer dollars going to them was cut off by me 9 months ago.
On July 28, McAleenan gave an interview to the incomparable Maria Bartiromo of Fox News. He recapped the highlights in a Twitter thread, emphasising the continuing humanitarian crisis at the southern border, particularly with notional families — adults smuggling children. Ultimately, McAleenan said, although pressure is lessening at the centres, Congress needs to act now:
(4/6) We had almost 20,000 people in custody at the border in early June. Last night we had 7,200, including reducing the number of children by 90%. We’ve made a lot of progress thanks to
@POTUS engagement and the emergency supplemental funding.
(5/6) The crisis continues, and one of the most concerning aspects is the exploitation of children. We’ve had over 5,000 cases THIS YEAR of adults claiming to be “parents” to children they brought across the border who had no parental relation.
(6/6) The only fundamental, durable solution to this crisis is Congressional action. We’ve been very clear about the targeted changes we need.
On August 15, McAleenan toured the El Paso ‘soft-sided’ facility, which looks similar to an airplane hangar with durable tent-like walls. Contrary to some immigration centres, El Paso’s has seen a 500% increase in border crossers since 2018. McAleenan tweeted about the facility, which angered the Americans responding to him online. They saw the photos and video of neatly stacked piles of brand new clothes and asked him why they weren’t being given to homeless vets and civilians instead. On the one hand, it’s hard to argue with that. On the other, the border operation must be humanitarian, especially where hygiene and disease are concerned.
According to various reports, activists encouraging Latin Americans to enter the US illegally have been advising them to bring children with them. This accounts for the explosion in children arriving with adults at the border. It is difficult to distinguish legitimate families from degenerates bringing minors along for nefarious purposes.
On August 21, in an attempt to staunch the flow of trafficked children into the United States, McAleenan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced the termination of the Flores Settlement Act (FSA) which allowed illegal alien ‘families’ to remain together. The FSA made sense when there was little to no child trafficking. However, in recent years, that has changed.
OANN’s Ryan James Girdusky got the scoop about the FSA the day before the announcement. He tweeted:
– Trump’s establishing a national standards for family housing that will mandate alien families can be held together during immigration proceedings.
– this will protect children’s welfare by closing loopholes used by human smugglers
– THE GOVERNMENT IS TERMINATING FLORES
The DHS announcement reads, in part:
Importantly, the rule will allow for termination of the FSA, and allow DHS and HHS to respond to significant statutory and operational changes that have occurred since the FSA has been in place, including dramatic increases in the numbers of unaccompanied children and family units crossing into the United States.
Large numbers of alien families are entering illegally across the southern border, hoping that they will be released into the interior rather than detained during their removal proceedings. Promulgating this rule and seeking termination of the FSA are important steps towards an immigration system that is humane and operates consistently with the intent of Congress.
It will come into effect in 60 days’ time, i.e. around October 21.
McAleenan posted a Twitter thread which explains the action on FSA:
(2/5) Today’s action addresses a court-imposed weakness in immigration law that prevented DHS from detaining a family together for more than 20 days and codifies critical commitments on the conditions for children in Federal care.
(3/5) It will help address the dramatic 469% increase this year from the record number of family units apprehended in FY18. The incentive to cross the border illegally with a vulnerable child must come to an end.
(5/5) Keeping families together during immigration proceedings, & ensuring that asylum seekers w/ meritorious claims get resolution, are important steps to enhance the integrity of the system & extend protections to those that need them …
McAleenan will do well, one hopes, as DHS’s acting director — as long as he continues to think of the children. I will continue to be on the lookout for any more leaks attributed to him.
In a related development, the border ‘wall’ continues to be replaced or built. A number of never-Trumpers on both sides of the aisle deny its progress, however, videos are appearing daily showing that it is, indeed, being constructed. On August 30, the White House tweeted one of the videos with this summary:
The old, six-foot border fence in Tecate, California—installed in the 1990s—was made from salvaged military landing mats.
It’s being replaced by 30-foot steel wall.
Okay, they are steel slats, so, more like a fence, but they look to be an effective barrier.
In other leaker news, Trump’s personal assistant Madeleine Westerhout resigned on Thursday, August 29. She used to sit just outside the Oval Office. She was regarded as Trump’s ‘gatekeeper’. Last week, her status was reduced to ‘separated employee’. She did not show up for work on Friday.
It remains inexplicable how Trump can continue to hire these people. I have read that powerful Republicans told him he would have to make certain cabinet appointments from their list of appointees. However, Westerhout was not one of these.
On the surface, aspects of Westerhout’s time in the White House appears somewhat so-whatty. The Washington Examiner reported:
Westerhout, who is in her late 20s, was the subject of a Washington Post profile in September 2018, which documented her rise from Trump Tower “greeter girl” during the transition period to being executive assistant to the president. In a conversation with Watergate sleuth Bob Woodward, Trump described her as being “the key” and “the secret” to reaching him.
In November, Westerhout was one of six White House aides warned by the Office of Special Counsel for violating the Hatch Act by using their government Twitter accounts to engage in political activity.
Trump found out that she leaked confidential information about his family during Trump’s recent stay at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey:
… the president found out she “indiscreetly” divulged information about the Trump family and Oval Office operations in a recent off-the-record dinner with reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump had a working vacation.
One of those bits of information was that Trump does not like being photographed with his daughter Tiffany (Marla Maples’s girl) because she has fat legs.
On Saturday, August 31, Trump tweeted:
While Madeleine Westerhout has a fully enforceable confidentiality agreement, she is a very good person and I don’t think there would ever be reason to use it. She called me yesterday to apologize, had a bad night. I fully understood and forgave her! I love Tiffany, doing great!
The New York Times had more in their August 29 report:
Ms. Westerhout, a former Republican National Committee aide who also worked for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, reportedly cried on election night because she was upset over Mr. Trump’s victory. As such, the president at first viewed her warily, as a late convert to his cause who could not be trusted.
Yet, she was there from the day he took office. Later, according to the NYT, Gen. John F Kelly, another snake, tried to rehabilitate her reputation:
But some of Mr. Trump’s top officials — like John F. Kelly, who has since left as chief of staff — tried to turn Ms. Westerhout into an ally who could help them manage Oval Office traffic. They hoped that she could block individuals from reaching the president on the phone or in person, and that she would report back on the calls and meetings that made it through.
Madeleine was one of the most disloyal members of Trump’s White House. Whenever Trump would contemplate endorsing candidates that were non-establishment, Madeline would [c]all in Johnny DeStefano to come in and stop him before he could tweet it
Girdusky also tweeted:
allies of the president who supported his agenda would leave him letters about why/how certain pieces of legislation were bad for his agenda- Madeline would vet the letters and very frequently ensure they never got in front of Trump
Trump’s been warned about her for some time. Leaking about the family crossed the line.
Politico had more on the story, implying that Westerhout had few friends left in the White House:
In the past six months, Westerhout had tried to expand the boundaries of her job to encompass a broader set of tasks and to include foreign travel, said one adviser close to the White House, who suggested Westerhout had tried to act like a de facto chief of staff. This irked several White House officials and Cabinet secretaries who thought she should stick to her primary task of serving as the president’s personal secretary with a desk just outside the Oval Office …
The White House was buzzing for most of the day on Thursday about her potential departure — especially after officials learned that she had attended an off-the-record dinner with reporters in Bedminster, N.J., where she was said to have shared overly personal details about the president’s life.
The close White House adviser called this “the final straw” for someone who did not have many allies left in the building.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
One hopes that her revelations do not have negative implications for the security of Trump or his family.