There are many reasons why former Vice President Joe Biden’s selection of Alejandro Mayorkas for the Department of Homeland Security secretary position is troubling. But there is one episode in particular that screams out among them. That would be Mayorkas’ role in President Bill Clinton’s January 2001 grant of clemency to a clearly guilty drug smuggler named Carlos Vignali.
An ABC News article written by Josh Gerstein a month after Vignali’s release from prison tells the story. At the time, Vignali had served “less than six years of a 14-and-a-half year sentence for cocaine trafficking.” He had been a key player in a 30-member drug ring. No one was more stunned than the detectives who had worked on this case.
Gerstein wrote that “prosecutors opposed the Vignali commutation, even though it was processed through normal channels at the Justice Department.”
Vignali was arrested in 1994 after he had been recorded on a federal wiretap trafficking “cocaine and money between Los Angeles and Minneapolis.”
At the time, “he was an aspiring rapper, known as C-Low, with the group Brownside.”
Following Vignali’s arrest, his father, Horacio Vignali, a wealthy Los Angeles real estate developer, donated more than $160,000 to politicians whom he later lobbied “to win his son’s freedom.” According to Gerstein, “Vignali’s father persuaded at least nine prominent political figures to contact the White House on his son’s behalf.”
One of these individuals was Antonio Villaraigosa, who would later serve as the mayor of Los Angeles. In a letter to the White House, he wrote that Vignali was innocent, that he had been “falsely linked” to the drug ring and was the victim of “guilt by association.” The Cardinal of Los Angeles also wrote a letter on Vignali’s behalf.
Mayorkas was the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California at the time. He lobbied hard on Vignali’s behalf.
The following excerpts from a 2002 House of Representatives report are highly critical of Mayorkas’ role and his judgment in this case.
“U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas provided critical support for the Vignali commutation that was inappropriate, given his position,” the report read. “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 report went on to detail the facts of the prosecutor’s support of the commutation.
“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.”
“Despite these warnings from a prosecutor who was intimately familiar with the Vignali case, Mayorkas still called the White House in support of the Vignali commutation.”
The report concluded with a scathing rebuke.
“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.”
If Republicans prevail in the Georgia runoffs next month, Mayorkas will have a tough time getting through the Senate confirmation process required for this position.
Breitbart’s Neil Munro looked at the list of Republicans who will likely serve on the Senate Homeland Defense Committee, which would be responsible for reviewing Mayorkas’ nomination. He expects the committee to be chaired by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who voted against Mayorkas in 2013.
Munro also listed Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mitt Romney of Utah, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Rick Scott of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri. All in all, this is a pretty serious group of guys who would almost definitely oppose Mayorkas’ nomination.
On the other hand, if Democrats win control of the Senate, Mayorkas is likely to be confirmed. A man who once risked his reputation to help a proven drug smuggler obtain clemency could potentially run DHS.
What does that tell us about the ease with which drugs will flow into the United States under Mayorkas’ stewardship of this agency? It tells us that happy days will be here again for drug traffickers. The days of Trump’s tough border and crime policies may soon be over.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.