Home GOP committees probe retaliation claims after Border Patrol official’s reassignment

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Home Republicans on the Home Oversight and Homeland Safety Committees are investigating whistleblower claims that Customs and Border Safety (CBP) could have retaliated in opposition to a high Border Patrol official after testifying to the 2 committees — a declare that the company known as “categorically false.”

“We write with deep concern that U.S. Customs and Border Safety (CBP) officers could have retaliated in opposition to a witness in a Congressional investigation,” Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., and Homeland Safety Committee Chair Mark Inexperienced, R-Tenn., stated in a letter to performing CBP Commissioner Troy Miller.

The lawmakers say they’ve obtained an allegation concerning El Centro Border Patrol Sector Chief Gregory Bovino. The whistleblower claims that after Bovino concluded a transcribed interview with the committees July 12, he was “relieved of his command over the El Centro Sector and reassigned to a imprecise, indefinite, and short-term headquarters task.”

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U.S. Consultant and Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., speaks throughout a Home Committee on Oversight and Accountability listening to concerning the legal investigation into the Bidens, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 19, 2023. (Photograph by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP through Getty Pictures)

“The whistleblower signifies that this sample is in step with a standard CBP follow to eliminate workers perceived as problematic by high-level officers by forcing these workers, out of frustration, to relocate, retire, or resign,” Comer and Inexperienced stated within the letter. “Given the suspicious timing of the reassignment coinciding with Chief Bovino’s cooperation with a Congressional inquiry, we demand CBP account for the present standing of Chief Bovino’s employment and task inside the U.S. Border Patrol, present paperwork and communications related to any reassignment and the explanations for any associated employment motion, and temporary the Committee on this matter.” 

Based on the whistleblower, it was not the primary time Bovino upset officers. In January, Comer invited Bovino to testify, however he was not permitted. The letter says that the whistleblower claims he produced testimony that was “dissatisfactory” to CBP officers, and for which he was verbally reprimanded by management.

After the July 12 interview, lawmakers stated Bovino was instantly knowledgeable by a senior Border Patrol official “that he was relieved of command of the El Centro Sector efficient instantly and would thereafter report back to CBP headquarters in Washington, D.C. for a short lived responsibility task of indefinite nature and time.”

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“The whistleblower describes that short-term task as one in every of no sure mission, no articulable objective, and with none timeline of completion,” Comer and Inexperienced wrote.

Of their letter to Miller, Comer and Inexperienced warned that they’d not tolerate any retaliation in opposition to congressional witnesses.

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“Any retaliation in opposition to witnesses who cooperate with Congressional inquiries is not going to be tolerated, particularly when that retaliation could have been dedicated by authorities officers. Moreover, obstruction of Congressional investigations is a criminal offense and won’t be tolerated,” Comer and Inexperienced warned.

Nevertheless, CBP denied the claims of retaliation being made by the whistleblower.

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Chairman Mark Inexperienced, R-Tenn., conducts a information convention forward of the Home Homeland Safety Committee listening to to “Look at Secretary Mayorkas Dereliction of Obligation,” Wednesday, June 14, 2023.  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Name, Inc through Getty Pictures, File)

“This accusation is categorically false,” a CBP spokesperson instructed Fox Information Digital in an announcement. “This short-term personnel task is solely unrelated to any Congressional testimony or look, and was in course of previous to the Chief’s transcribed interview.”

CBP says it’s continuously evaluating necessities and sources, together with personnel, to place the company to conduct its mission. Moreover, different sector chiefs have additionally been quickly assigned to headquarters in Washington, and that may be a reflection of ongoing operational wants. 

Bovino’s reassignment additionally got here amid a significant change in management throughout the Division of Homeland Safety and Customs and Border Safety (CBP) because the companies have been tackling an ongoing disaster on the southern border — and have carried out sweeping modifications to coincide with the tip of the Title 42 public well being order on Might 11.

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Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz retired on the finish of June and was changed by Del Rio Sector Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens. The company additionally introduced that performing Deputy Customs and Border Safety (CBP) Commissioner Benjamine “Carry” Huffman would retire and get replaced by Government Assistant Commissioner for the Workplace of Subject Operations Pete Flores. In the meantime, Yuma and San Diego Sectors have additionally seen new chief patrol brokers. The company has additionally highlighted that Bovino was beforehand detailed to CBP headquarters in 2021.

Past CBP, Performing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Tae Johnson retired and was changed by Patrick Lechleitner. At DHS itself, Deputy Secretary John Tien was changed by performing Deputy Secretary Kristie Canegallo.

Comer and Inexperienced, of their letter to Miller, are requesting all paperwork and communications associated to Bovino’s employment and people associated to his look as a witness. Additionally they desire a briefing earlier than July 28.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Fox Information Digital, primarily protecting immigration and border safety.

He could be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.


Home GOP committees probe retaliation claims after Border Patrol official’s reassignment

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