Justice Department lawyer Gene Hamilton may not be a household name, but he, like White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller, has been a critical figure in some of the Trump administration’s most severe anti-immigration policies and actions.
One of those actions — the attempt to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitian immigrants — was challenged in a lawsuit in 2018, requiring Hamilton to testify as a fact witness. And according to records obtained by American Oversight, it was during this deposition that Hamilton made misleading claims and potentially lied under oath — conduct that must be investigated by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, as American Oversight outlined in a letter on Wednesday to that office.
Hamilton, a counselor to the attorney general, testified on Jan. 3, 2019, as a fact witness in Saget et al. v. Trump et al., a case challenging the administration’s attempt to end the program allowing Haitian immigrants to live and work in the U.S., arguing that the decision was racially motivated. During the deposition, the plaintiffs’ counsel asked whether Hamilton could provide a copy of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) he had signed with the presidential transition team after the 2016 election.
In his responses to the questions, Hamilton said that he would have to talk to the transition team’s counsel and that he had not yet spoken to them about the NDA, just about the fact that he was being deposed.
But records obtained by American Oversight in response to Freedom of Information Act litigation show that those statements were misleading at best: Two days earlier, Hamilton had emailed Kory Langhofer, counsel for the transition team, not just to say he was being deposed, but to mention that he knew the plaintiffs were interested in seeing the NDA and to ask whether Langhofer “happen[ed] to have a copy of the NDA I signed?”
Not only that, but subsequent emails show that Langhofer asked someone in their office to look for the NDA and arranged for a phone conversation with Hamilton the next day.
These records show that Hamilton’s statements, made under oath, were plainly misleading, and must be investigated by the Justice Department. “This lack of candor, which would be considered unacceptable by any witness in a legal proceeding, is even more troubling when made by an officer of the court and a senior federal government official in the Department of Justice,” wrote American Oversight in its letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. “Mr. Hamilton’s apparent dishonesty on this matter suggests that his veracity may have been questionable regarding other matters where documentation contradicting information has not yet surfaced.”
You can read the full letter here. Recently, American Oversight obtained records revealing Hamilton’s frequent communications with Stephen Miller about controversial immigration policies and efforts to push anti-immigrant messaging; you can read more about those emails here.