Senate Dem on call for Nielsen investigation: I am 'sick and tired of this administration lying'

Senate Dem on call for Nielsen investigation: I am 'sick and tired of this administration lying'
© Anna Moneymaker

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The border deal: What made it in, what got left out Lawmakers introduce bill to fund government, prevent shutdown MORE (D-Ore.) said on Monday that he is asking for the FBI to investigate Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenImmigrant advocacy groups seek restraining order to block Trump asylum policy The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration 2,000 asylum seekers return home, decide to stay in Mexico: report MORE for possible perjury because he is "sick and tired" of the administration "lying" to Congress.

"I am just sick and tired of this administration lying to the American people, lying to Congress, doing it under oath and it's time for some real accountability," Merkley told CNN's "New Day."

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Merkley sent the bureau a request on Friday asking it to probe Nielsen for potentially lying to Congress. He said on Monday that that FBI had not yet responded to his request, but "this is the official, right way to initiate a referral to the FBI for a pursuit of an investigation regarding perjury."

Merkley, in his letter to the FBI, said that "compelling new evidence has emerged revealing that high-level Department of Homeland Security officials were secretly and actively developing a new policy and legal framework for separating families as far back as December 2017."

Merkley's office gave NBC News a December 2017 draft document last week of what would eventually become the White House’s immigration policy.

In the draft, administration officials discussed targeting parents of migrant families with prosecution as a deterrent, saying the “increase in prosecutions would be reported by the media and would have a substantial deterrent effect.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to the draft, was also “considering separating family units, placing the adults in adult detention and placing the minors under the age of 18 in the custody of [the Department of Health and Human Services] as unaccompanied alien children.”

DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a statement to The Hill late last week that the department "has never had a blanket policy of separating families in custody."

"What this pre-decisional, pre-deliberative memo — as well as previously leaked pre-decisional, pre-deliberative documents — shows is that the Secretary was provided a menu of options to prevent the humanitarian crisis we predicted at that time and which has manifested itself today," Waldman said.

She added that Nielsen "specifically rejected a policy proposal to separate all family units in DHS custody."