Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security worked with then-President Bill Clinton to free major drug trafficker Carlos Vignali, despite overwhelming evidence that he was guilty, as reported by Breitbart News. Biden’s DHS pick, Alejandro Mayorkas, served as Bill Clinton’s U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, which covers Los Angeles, from 1998 to 2001. During that time period, he ignored the pleas of other federal prosecutors to keep Vignali in jail, and instead personally lobbied Bill Clinton for Vignali’s commutation after Vignali’s wealthy father made over $160,000 in donations to a number of prominent Los Angeles politicians.
As head of the DHS, Vignali, if confirmed by the Senate, will be responsible for ensuring that drug traffickers are stopped at the southern border and not allowed to bring deadly drugs into the United States. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that drug overdoses alone killed around 72,000 Americans last year.
During a 2002 investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives into the “justice undone” by the Clinton White House clemency decisions, the Congressional report revealed that, “U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas provided critical support for the Vignali commutation that was inappropriate, given his position.” The report further stated:
“U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas called the White House in support of the Vignali commutation. Mayorkas, the top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, was asked by Horacio Vignali to call the White House in support of his son’s clemency petition. Mayorkas then called the White House about the Vignali commutation. While Mayorkas does not recall the details of his conversation, he now concedes that his call conveyed support for the Vignali commutation.”
The Congressional report continued, stating “Mayorkas supported the Vignali commutation despite his ignorance of the facts of the case and his knowledge that the prosecutors responsible for the Vignali case opposed clemency. Before he called the White House, Mayorkas had spoken twice with Todd Jones, the U.S. Attorney responsible for the Vignali case. Jones told Mayorkas that Vignali was a ‘major player’ in drug trafficking, that he was ‘bad news’ and that Mayorkas should not ‘go there’ when it came to Vignali.”
The report further stated, “Despite these warnings from a prosecutor who was intimately familiar with the Vignali case, Mayorkas still called the Clinton White House in support of the Vignali commutation. Mayorkas’ support for the Vignali commutation was inappropriate. Mayorkas knew little about the Vignali case. What he did know indicated that Carlos Vignali was an unrepentant, large-scale criminal. These facts alone make his support for the commutation, as a senior federal prosecutor, totally inappropriate.”
A 2006 report from ABC News gave insight into Vignali’s rich and well-connected father, who spent years lobbying and donating to Los Angeles politicians in order to free his son from jail.
“After his son was arrested, the elder Vignali, who is active in Latino causes, stepped up his donations to L.A. area politicians, giving more than $160,000. Vignali’s father persuaded at least nine prominent political figures to contact the White House on his son’s behalf. In one letter, the former speaker of California’s state assembly actually proclaimed Vignali innocent, saying he was “falsely linked” to the drug ring and the victim of “guilt by association.” The lawmaker, Antonio Villaraigosa, who is currently running for mayor of Los Angeles, now says he made a mistake, as does L.A.’s Cardinal, who also wrote to the White House.”
The report further shared that Vignali was part of a national gang that moved cocaine and other drugs from California to Minnesota.
“Back in Minneapolis, some like drug investigator Tony Adams say the politicians who backed Vignali are hypocrites. And some who were part of Vignali’s drug gang are still serving a 20-year sentence. ‘Politicians always get in front of this camera and say we’re trying to take drugs off streets, put dope dealers in jail,’ Adams says. ‘Well, you just let one out — a big one.’”
The Daily Caller extensively reported on Bill Clinton’s “Pardongate” scandal and the subsequent 2002 House investigation, which included Mayorkas and Biden Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who both lobbied heavily for Vignali’s release.
Breitbart News reported that Mayorkas “is a gift for Republicans who want to make an issue of Biden’s immigration policies,” Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies, told the outlet.
“He is the exact kind of nominee that people didn’t want to see — someone in favor of corporate interests on immigration, of looking the other way on fraud, of rubber-stamping every [migration] application. This should be an easy softball for them to hit out of the park. This is something that’s going to be helpful to them in the Georgia Senate races — I mean, [Sen. David] Perdue [R-GA] and [Sen. Kelly] Loeffler [R-GA] should be commenting on this. All of the stars align here — cronyism, corruption, swampiness, and the immigration issue.”
Progressive groups, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us group put out a statement November 23rd, saying:
“He comes with the deep respect of the business community, national security and foreign policy experts, immigration reformers, and elected officials and career civil servants from across the ideological spectrum. As the former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, he has deep expertise in bringing together bipartisan stakeholders, including to work to modernize our broken immigration system. He has previously been confirmed three times by the United States Senate, and we urge his swift confirmation to ensure there is a Senate-confirmed leader of DHS at this critical time.”
During the Obama administration, Mayorkas was Deputy DHS Director and oversaw progressive reforms there. The Center for Immigration Studies reported that Mayorkas hindered anti-fraud efforts during his time at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency, stating:
“A damning December 2015 GAO report found that [USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate] asylum fraud prosecutions rarely, if ever, occurred during the Mayorkas years. It found that half of the eight USCIS field divisions had referred either one fraud case to U.S. attorney’s offices from 2010 to 2014 or none at all. One office reported that not a single referral had been accepted in the prior two years. Another reported that its U.S. attorney had accepted no asylum fraud referrals since 2010.”
The GAO report continued, “Besides strong-arming USCIS employees to ‘get to yes’ instead of valid denials or fraud investigations, another reason for this dismal showing during Mayorka’s 2010-2013 USCIS years was that the very FDNS directorate heralded in the Post story was never allowed to refer cases to prosecutors, subpoena witnesses, or even carry guns.”
The report further stated that Mayorkas came under fire for numerous green-card-for-sale scandals, including “[exerting] improper influence in the normal processing and adjudication [of visas],” “[inserting] himself in unprecedented ways,” and “intervening with the career USCIS staff in ways that clearly benefited the stakeholders.”