Pentagon watchdog to audit North Dakota company's border wall contract

Pentagon watchdog to audit North Dakota company's border wall contract

A Pentagon watchdog is auditing the contract awarded to a North Dakota company to build a portion of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE’s border wall.

The Defense Department’s inspector general will audit the $400 million border wall contract given to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co., the inspector general said in a letter to House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonStates plead for cybersecurity funds as hacking threat surges House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Federal watchdog finds chemical facilities vulnerable to cyberattacks MORE (D-Miss.) dated Thursday.

Thompson requested the probe last week after worries that “inappropriate influence” affected the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’s decision to hire Fisher to construct 31 miles of the wall in Yuma County, Arizona.  

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The inspector general’s letter answering Thompson confirmed that an audit would be announced “soon.” 

Thompson said he was “pleased” by the inspector general’s decision to look into the contract.

“The company had never been awarded a construction contract before and their wall prototype was late and over budget,” Thompson said in a statement. “Given the President’s multiple endorsements of this company and the amount of taxpayer money at stake, I remain concerned about the possibility of inappropriate influence on the Army Corps’ contracting decision.”

Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, confirmed in a statement obtained by The Hill that there would be an audit. 

“We will conduct a full audit of the award of this contract,” he said.

Tommy Fisher, the head of the company, said there would be “nothing to find” when looking at the contract, according to The Associated Press.

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“We were told we were the lowest price and the best value,” he said. “We look forward to working with the Army Corps of Engineers,” Fisher said.

Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. said in a statement to The Hill that they are "committed to full cooperation" with the upcoming audit.

"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 statement read.

Trump promised during his campaign to build 450 to 500 miles of border wall by the end of his first term. As of Nov. 1, he has built 78 miles, according to the AP.

At the time Fisher was awarded the contract earlier this month, the Army Corps released a letter saying Fisher’s contract was acceptable and the best priced.

But two administration officials familiar with the matter told AP that Trump pushed for Fisher to earn the contract. Fisher also appeared on Fox News repeatedly, advocating for his company.

—Updated 5:19 p.m.