Blumenthal grills acting DHS chief over 'secret' Mexican deal

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Tuesday grilled acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan about President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE's claim that there is part of the administration's immigration deal brokered with Mexico that has not yet been revealed.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Blumenthal read Trump's Monday tweet in which he said "we have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body." 

“What is the secret deal?” Blumenthal asked McAleenan.


“I’m certainly not going to share something in advance of the president,” the acting DHS chief began before Blumenthal interrupted him to ask: “Is there a secret deal?”

“So, the deal with Mexico is a comprehensive approach and its more than we’ve ever had in terms of commitment from Mexico, both operationally and the program," McAleenan continued.

“How much of it is not yet disclosed to the American public?” Blumenthal asked, cutting him off again. 

McAleenan began listing the already announced portions of the last-minute deal to avert tariffs Trump threatened over the surge of Central Americans crossing the U.S.-Mexico border before Blumenthal again interrupted him.

“I know what he has announced,” Blumenthal said, visibly frustrated, “but the foreign secretary of Mexico denies there is any sort of undisclosed deal. How do you square that statement with the president’s?” 

“I think the president’s tweet stands for itself and the announcement will be on his timeline. What I can show you ... is that further actions in the announcement talk about continued assessment over 90 days, looking at this," McAleenan said.   

"With all due respect, because my time is limited, I know what has been said," Blumenthal interrupted again before moving on to other questions.

"If you are unable to disclose anymore what’s in that deal I think, with all due respect, you are failing in your duty to come before this committee and fully disclose what the commitments of this nation are with respect to immigration."

Trump on Monday said he would impose sweeping tariffs on Mexico if an unspecified provision of the agreement that requires approval by the Mexican legislature is not upheld.

“We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, Tariffs will be reinstated!” the president tweeted.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said later on Monday that the mysterious, unnamed issue was a potential asylum pact including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as well as other entities like Brazil and Panama and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.