US congressman Bennie G. Thompson has launched an investigation into how British politician Nigel Farage apparently flew to America to attend Donald Trump’s campaign rally during restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, reported Sky News.
The chairman of the House of Representatives' committee on homeland security slammed the decision to allow the visit as raising "numerous troubling questions".
"All relevant documents" on the decision to "waive the travel ban for Mr. Farage" have been requested by Thompson, who said he had sent a corresponding letter to Chad Wolf, acting secretary of homeland security.
"The decision of the Trump administration to admit Mr. Farage to the United States to enable him to attend a campaign rally at a time when most travel from the United Kingdom to the US has been suspended raises numerous troubling questions, as does the claim that such travel was in the national interest," said Thompson.
According to the congressman, a statement from America's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had earlier confirmed that Nigel Farage was initially denied permission to board due to the travel restrictions, yet the decision was reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security, that allowed entry into the US as it "would be in the national interest".
Thompson has requested that the Department of Homeland Security provide "all communication" since 14 March that had bearing on the British politician’s trip, as well as documents on "the individual who ultimately approved travel to the US by Mr. Farage" and "the determination and justification" that the trip "was a matter of national interest".
There has not yet been any official comment on the developments from the Brexit Party or Nigel Farage.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, since 16 March, the US Customs and Border Protection agency has banned access to the country for “most individuals, other than United States citizens and lawful permanent residents, who have been physically present within the United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe, or the Republic of Ireland within 14 days of travel to the United States”.
Nevertheless, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage appeared at Donald Trump's Saturday election rally in Tulsa – the first since the coronavirus epidemic started sweeping the country.
The Brexiteer had documented his trip to the US online, posting a photograph of himself on Saturday with the caption:
"In the USA, only twenty four hours from Tulsa" - the destination of the US president's rally over the weekend.
In the USA, only twenty four hours from Tulsa. pic.twitter.com/9fQipWYr3a— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 20, 2020
The move triggered speculations as to how Farage managed to circumvent the travel ban imposed due to the pandemic, with some suggested it was a one-off waiver for Farage directly from Trump.
In a statement quoted by The Independent, however, the US Department for Homeland Security acknowledged that initially the politician was denied permission to board while attempting to fly from the UK to the US.
“After conducting a thorough review of the relevant facts and circumstances, DHS determined Mr. Farage’s travel to be permissible under section 2 (a)(xi) of the presidential proclamation: any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the secretary of state, the secretary of homeland security, or their designees authorising Mr. Farage to board his flight,” reads the statement.