July 29, 2020 / 9:06 PM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. judge opens probe into false statements in NY 'Trusted Traveler' suit

(Adds no immediate DHS comment, background)

By David Shepardson and Jonathan Stempel

July 29 (Reuters) - U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman on Wednesday opened an inquiry into the government’s false statements in New York’s lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s decision to bar the state from its “Trusted Traveler” program.

Furman called the disclosures last week “deeply troubling” that led the Homeland Security Department (DHS) to immediately reinstate New York residents in the program.

Furman directed DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan to file a comprehensive report by Aug. 12 detailing all inaccurate or misleading statements and identify who was responsible.

DHS did not immediately comment Wednesday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week called the decision to bar residents from a program that allows the use of expedited lanes at U.S. airport as “a clear abuse of government power for political purposes.”

Cuomo suggested the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, and the acting deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, “violated their oath of office” and said they could face “possible criminal liability.”

New York is asking the U.S. government to pay its court costs and attorneys’ fees in the case. Furman directed New York and the U.S. government to hold talks in an effort to settle those claims.

Last week, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer of New York asked DHS’s inspector general to investigate. Cuomo said the Trump administration was using DHS “as a political tool. It doesn’t work that way. And it’s not just not right, and unethical and immoral. It’s illegal.”

In February, DHS cut off New York from the program in response to the state’s passage last June of a law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses and limiting federal access to license information.

The Trump administration acknowledged some other states and territories withheld driver information but had been allowed to participate. (Reporting by David Shepardson and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumaker)

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