Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is accusing Biden administration officials of misleading the press about striking a deal in which Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico would tighten their borders to reduce migration into the US.
Issa, the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told The Post that the administration’s messaging on the subject, earlier in the week, was intentionally deceptive — something he likened to the gravity of the Iran-Contra scandal.
“They lied and they’re trying to make it look like it wasn’t a lie,” Issa said of a statement Biden aide Tyler Moran made on MSNBC on Tuesday.
Moran, a special assistant to the president on immigration policy, had told the network that the administration “secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border. Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala have all agreed to do this.”
The administration walked back that there was a formal agreement after all three countries dismissed the notion they had struck a deal.
During a House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, the Northern Triangle Special Envoy Ricardo Zuniga also testified, “No, there were no agreements concluded with governments regarding border security.”
When pressed about whether there was an agreement on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “We never described it as a formal declaration or a formal agreement, but additional steps that they were taking to increase personnel at the border. And those are steps you can confirm with those countries that they have taken.”
That explanation didn’t wash with Issa.
“Look, if you’ve deceived the press effectively with an answer to a planted question, it’s pretty obvious that you intended to deceive,” he told The Post.
Issa said that he spoke with an official from Mexico following the subcommittee hearing.
“[Officials from] Guatemala, Honduras, and now, Mexico who I talked to personally, said no such thing,” Issa said.
“These are unilateral and they’ve had no discussions with the administration and particularly noteworthy, none with the vice president, which you know begs the question of why take credit for these unilateral actions of countries who have been forced to protect themselves,” he said.
“In the case of Mexico, they’ve dispatched their National Guard to their southern border to try to stem the flow that these policy changes have caused.”
Psaki said Monday that Mexico will continue its deployment of 10,000 troops, 1,500 police and military personnel in Guatemala have been to its southern border while Honduras has deployed 7,000 law enforcement officials to its border in addition to plans to set up 12 checkpoints along the migratory route.