DHS denies Trump urged 'anything illegal'

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The Department of Homeland Security denies that President Donald Trump "indicated, asked, directed or pressured" Kevin McAleenan to do anything illegal.

Kevin McAleenan, President Donald Trump's pick to become acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (Photo: Jaime Rodriguez Sr. / U.S. CBP)

Last week Trump urged his soon-to-be acting homeland security secretary to seal the southern border and told McAleenan he would pardon him if he were to find himself in trouble for blocking legal asylum-seekers. That's according to two people familiar with the conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a private exchange.

It was not clear whether the president was joking, and a Homeland Security spokesman said in a statement: "At no time has the president indicated, asked, directed or pressured the acting secretary to do anything illegal."

The reported conversation came during the president's trip last week to Calexico, California.