This Is Some Serious Government Intimidation Shit

Ken AshfordImmigration and Xenophobia, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment


In his first television interview, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson James Schwab has opened up about why he abruptly resigned in March. But his interview with CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas on Wednesday was unexpectedly interrupted by agents identifying themselves as agents from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s Office.

“They just said that they wanted to talk to me about the leak with the Oakland mayor,” Schwab said of his conversation with the agents.

Before the surprise visit, Schwab told Yuccas that both the Obama and Trump White Houses asked him to “spin” information. But he said he felt compelled to resign after the current administration told him to lie about an incident that pitted the government against Oakland’s mayor.

Back in February in the month leading up to Schwab’s resignation, tensions in the San Francisco Bay area were running high over a series of raids carried out by federal agents with ICE. With the guidance of his superiors in Washington D.C., it fell to Schwab to communicate with journalists about those raids. The day before the operations took place, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned the community about the operation — a surprise to Schwab.

“She was putting your officers’ lives, potentially, in danger?” Yuccas asked Schwab. “Correct,” he replied.

“We ended up arresting 232, which is 16 percent higher than our highest estimates. So internally, that was considered a success….But what they publicly said was that she let people go,” Schwab said. According to him, that was not true.

He helped craft a statement to the media saying, “Some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision.”  He was comfortable with that statement, he said, because it included the words “some of.”

“This is a spin statement. This is what every public affairs officer does,” Schwab said.

A week later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ language was noticeably different. He said “ICE failed to make 800 arrests” because of the mayor’s statement. Sessions’ words didn’t sit well with Schwab.

“Completely false…that made me extremely uncomfortable,” Schwab said.

When reporters asked him to clarify the discrepancy, Schwab said he was instructed by his superiors in Washington to simply refer to the original statement he drafted without disputing Sessions’ version of events.

“After they failed to correct it – it’s a flat-out lie. They know it’s a lie. It was just shocking to me that no one wanted to fix that,” Schwab said.

Troubled by what he saw as public deception, Schwab turned in his resignation.

“I could not fathom staying at an organization that was OK with lying to the American public. I hate that. In 17 years in the military, at the Department of Defense as a civilian, at NASA, and now at Homeland Security, I have never been asked to lie. I have never been asked to perpetuate a lie, which is the same as lying,” Schwab said.

But what was somewhat weird, government agents showed up during the interview.