In court documents filed on Wednesday, attorney Allen Richards blasted “sad and sorry” President Donald Trump for calling his client, the man charged with the murder of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, an illegal immigrant. According to Richards, Mexico native Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was working at an Iowa dairy farm legally.
But Richards, according to authorities, is incorrect. Immigration officials say Rivera is indeed an illegal alien who was never in the E-Verify system, as has been falsely claimed.
In documents seeking a gag order, Richards accused the federal government, namely President Trump, of spreading the false information about his client’s legal status. “Sad and sorry Trump has weighed in on this matter in national media which will poison the entire possible pool of jury members,” wrote the attorney.
On Trump’s personal account and the White House’s official Twitter account, Rivera was identified as an “illegal alien” and used as an example of America’s broken immigration laws:
As reported by the Des Moines Register, Rivera lived in Iowa for years and worked at Yarrabee Farms, the owners of which include prominent Republican Craig Lang. According to Richards’ motion, Lang had verified that Rivera was in Iowa legally. One day before the motion was filed, Yarrabee Farms, via a statement, said Rivera was vetted through the E-Verify system.
“Craig Lang supports Cristhian’s right to be in this jurisdiction and for the government to support any other idea of status publicly flies in the face of such statement,” claimed Richard, adding, “Cristhian deserves the court’s protection as to his characterization before a jury pool.”
This, however, turned out to be false: Rivera was never in the E-Verify system. “A government archive does not indicate the Brooklyn, Iowa, farm as a participating member of the system,” notes the Des Moines Register. Yarrabee Farms acknowledged this reality on Wednesday.
Additionally, Michael Bars, a spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told USA TODAY, “A search of records by USCIS revealed Rivera did not make any DACA requests nor were any grants given. We have found no record in our systems indicating he has any lawful immigration status.”
The gag order request by Richards was denied by a Poweshiek District Court Judge.