Democrat calls for investigation of possible 'inappropriate influence' by Trump in border wall contract

A top House Democrat on Wednesday called for an investigation into a $400 million contract that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) awarded to a North Dakota company after it won the support of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General to request a review of the awarding of the contract to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. to build several miles of barrier along the border with Mexico.

“Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. had not been awarded a construction contract prior to December 2, as its proposals reportedly did not meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its prototype project came in late and over budget,” Thompson wrote.

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“Nevertheless, President Trump has personally repeatedly urged USACE to award construction contracts to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co.  Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Wyden calls on NSA to examine White House cybersecurity following Bezos hack The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE, whom President Trump recently named as the White House lead for border construction projects, has also reportedly supported the company’s selection,” he added. “These actions raise concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on USACE’s contracting decision.” 

Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. won the contract Monday and will be charged with building 31 miles of barrier along the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma County, Ariz. The deadline for the project’s completion is Dec. 30, 2020. 

The president had pushed for the firm to be tasked with the job despite having been told Fisher’s bids did not meet the required standards, according to The Washington Post. The presidential endorsement came after the company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, appeared on Fox News to promote his firm’s ability to swiftly construct the wall. 

"We are excited to show our high quality work and this project gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the caliber of work our team has delivered to our customers for six decades, while helping to secure our southern border," the company said this week.

Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. was first hired by the activist group We Build the Wall to build a 3.5-mile barrier outside of El Paso, Texas, along the Rio Grande, though the International Boundary Water Commission has yet to approve the project.