Former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson James Schwab gave his first television interview with CBS News on Wednesday, but he wasn’t even done when officials with the Department of Homeland Security showed up at his door.
Schwab, who worked for ICE in San Francisco, resigned back in March, claiming that the Trump administration had put out false information about the repercussions of the Oakland mayor’s advance warning to undocumented immigrants of an impending raid.
ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had said that more than 800 people were able to evade federal officials because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted a warning that ICE was about to conduct an operation. Schwab said that wasn’t true, yet the administration wouldn’t issue a correction after he brought it to their attention.
“We ended up arresting 232, which is 16 percent higher than our highest estimates. So internally, that was considered a success,” Schwab told CBS’ Jamie Yuccas. “But what they publicly said was that she let people go.” Schwab said he didn’t mind when Sessions first stated that “some” people were able to evade detection, but when the Attorney General later said, “ICE failed to make 800 arrests,” because of Schaaf’s tweet, he thought that went too far, and he decided to resign.
“I could not fathom staying at an organization that was OK with lying to the American public,” he said. “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 neverbeen asked to perpetuate a lie, which is the same as lying.”
In the middle of the interview, which took place at Schwab’s home, there was a knock at the door. When Schwab answered, men identifying themselves as working for the DHS Inspector General’s Office pulled him aside.
“They just said that they wanted to talk to me about the leak with the Oakland mayor,” he said.
When asked if he had ever contacted the office of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Schwab said, “No. I’ve never met her before. I never contacted Libby Schaaf,” Schwab said, adding that he was not responsible for leaking information about the raid to Schaaf’s office.
“I would never tell her. I would never tell anyone.”
ICE told CBS that the disagreed with Schwab’s claims and that he was not ordered to lie. Homan, meanwhile, is set to retire this week.
[Image via CBS screengrab]