Joe Biden’s big mouth could have hampered an investigation into what happened between Border Patrol agents and migrants from Haiti in Del Rio, Texas this week.
Much was made of photos that some believed showed the agents whipping Haitian migrants, but others have argued that the still pictures do not tell the entire story and that the agents were using the reigns to control the horses.
Still, Biden made his views known on the matter and, unlike what is typical of presidents during an ongoing investigation, he expressed his belief that the agents were guilty.
“Of course I take responsibility, I’m president,” he said in answer to a reporter’s question on the matter. To see people treated like they did, horses nearly running them over, people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you those people will pay.”
“There is an investigation underway right now and there will be consequences,” he said.
“It’s an embarrassment,” he said. “It’s beyond an embarrassment. It’s dangerous, it’s wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world. It sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are.”
After that speech, law professor John Turley argued that Biden’s words could have prejudiced the investigation and been unfair to the agents who are being investigated.
“Presidents long resisted pressure to get them to comment on pending cases or investigations to avoid charges of undue influence or bias in the results. This is one such case. It was wrong for Biden to say what he did in promising punishment for agents before any investigation is complete. It sends a message to investigators about the expected conclusions of their work. It also suggests that a finding of no whipping or wrongdoing would contradict the President and would not be supported by the White House. That could present serious career issues for investigators. It is unfair to the agents. It is unfair to the investigators and it undermines the integrity of the investigation,” he said.
“It seems to me that there are two separate issues here. The most discussed is whether migrants were in fact whipped or ‘strapped.’ Biden stated that they were indeed strapped, but many are now saying that that was not in fact true. The investigation will hopefully establish the truth, but now investigators may be concerns about embarrassing the President with any contrary finding,” the professor said.
Fox News reported that Border Agents were “stunned” by Biden reaching those conclusions before an investigation was done.A
“Would you go to work and do your best knowing that if you do your boss is going to ‘make you pay’?” an agent said to Fox News. “I’m dumbfounded and don’t know what to say.”
“Is the president threatening to throw us in prison?” the agent said.
Another agent said, “I see the administration wants to fry our agents. He just started a war with Border Patrol.”
Brandon Judd, who heads the National Border Patrol Council, wondered how an investigation could possibly be fair after Biden made his comments.
“Now that the president of the United States has already said they did wrong, how is an investigator supposed to do a true and honest investigation?” he said. “Because if that investigator finds they did nothing wrong — and they didn’t do anything wrong — but if that investigator finds they didn’t do anything wrong, how is that investigator’s job going to go?
He said Biden’s remarks were “completely and totally outrageous” and said that Biden was “playing politics with Border Patrol agents’ lives.”
“Nobody was struck by a rein, not one person was struck by a rein, not one person was run over by those horses. They used the tactics they were trained to use, to do the job [Biden] sent them out to do — these are executive branch employees,” he said. “He sent them out there to do the job, and now he’s criticizing them because his base wants them to.”