Lead Schneider trump travel ban blocked live_00011719.jpg
Lead Schneider trump travel ban blocked live_00011719.jpg
Now playing
02:05
Federal judge blocks Trump Travel Ban 3.0
muslim ban jake tapper fact check orig nws_00002104.jpg
muslim ban jake tapper fact check orig nws_00002104.jpg
Now playing
03:45
Is travel ban a 'total and complete' Muslim ban?
trump travel ban
CNN
trump travel ban
Now playing
01:39
Trump reacts to travel ban ruling
Jeremy Moorhead/CNN
Now playing
02:19
Voices divided on travel ban ruling
travel ban trump then and now orig nws_00002328.jpg
travel ban trump then and now orig nws_00002328.jpg
Now playing
01:23
Trump's travel ban then and now
CNN
Now playing
01:53
The seven countries banned by Trump
CNN
Now playing
00:57
Toobin: This is Muslim ban dressed in a tutu
Now playing
01:42
Senator: Supreme Court abandoned responsibility
WASHINGTON - MARCH 08:  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy testifies before the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Capitol Hill March 8, 2007 in Washington, DC. Thomas and fellow Justice Clarence Thomas spoke about concerns with the ongoing remodeling of the court building, the reduction of paperwork due to electronic media and the disparity of pay between federal judges and lawyers working in the private sector.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON - MARCH 08: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy testifies before the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Capitol Hill March 8, 2007 in Washington, DC. Thomas and fellow Justice Clarence Thomas spoke about concerns with the ongoing remodeling of the court building, the reduction of paperwork due to electronic media and the disparity of pay between federal judges and lawyers working in the private sector. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:58
Justice Kennedy harshly critiques Trump
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 23: People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court, on April 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Today the high court is hearing arguments in Chavez-Mesa v. US, which concerns a technical matter regarding sentencing guidelines. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be representing the government. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 23: People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court, on April 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Today the high court is hearing arguments in Chavez-Mesa v. US, which concerns a technical matter regarding sentencing guidelines. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be representing the government. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:48
Supreme Court upholds Trump's travel ban
CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 25: Travelers with their baggage are seen in a check-in line September 25, 2006 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. The TSA announced today they have slightly relaxed the ban on carrying some liquids onto passenger flights to allow most toiletries and beverages bought after the security checkpoints.  (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Tim Boyle/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 25: Travelers with their baggage are seen in a check-in line September 25, 2006 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. The TSA announced today they have slightly relaxed the ban on carrying some liquids onto passenger flights to allow most toiletries and beverages bought after the security checkpoints. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:31
Trump's latest travel ban
Now playing
04:04
Listen as lawyers argue travel ban case
President Donald Trump smiles during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 12, 2017.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump smiles during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 12, 2017.
Now playing
02:36
Court cites Trump tweets in travel ban ruling
travel ban immigrant families althaibani
CNN, Family Photos
travel ban immigrant families althaibani
Now playing
02:29
Families in limbo over Trump's travel ban
Now playing
01:14
Jeff Sessions: Travel ban protects Americans
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01:  U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015. The agreement is intended to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to a manageable level.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015. The agreement is intended to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to a manageable level. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:30
Trump pushes travel ban in tweetstorm

Story highlights

At issue is a report finished by the IG in early October

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke confirmed that the issue was still being looked at

(CNN) —  

The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is retiring from his post as a battle continues over whether the department will allow the release of a report he wrote critical of the administration’s travel ban.

DHS watchdog John Roth will be stepping down, his office confirmed, though spokeswoman Arlen Morales said the decision has been in the works for some time and is not related to the fight over the travel ban report.

“He’s retiring after 32 years of federal service,” Morales told CNN. “He’s moving on. It’s his own decision.”

Reuters was first to report the news, citing an interview with Roth in which he also denied a link between the report and his retirement. Roth’s last day was Thursday, according to a source familiar with the matter and the Reuters report.

Roth’s retirement comes amid a struggle over whether the document he wrote can be released.

The inspector general finished the report in early October. On November 20, Roth wrote to three Democratic senators who had requested the investigation into the travel ban’s implementation to say the department was preventing the report’s release.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke confirmed that the issue was still being looked at on Thursday, testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee that the department wants to block the release of portions of the report, which found violations of law.

She testified that DHS has asserted attorney-client and executive privileges, noting the travel ban is under litigation.

Duke said she feels “comfortable” that the claims of privilege are “accurate,” but “to be absolutely sure … we have ordered a third-party independent review to make sure that the privileges that we need to redact that report are sound.”

After her testimony, a DHS spokesman said in an emailed statement that the department believes it will release the report “soon.”

“The Department of Justice is conducting a third-party review of the privileged documents in the report,” spokesman Tyler Houlton said. “We always intended to release this terribly flawed report – and likely will do so soon – but given the conversations covered in the report and litigation at issue with regard to the EO (executive order) we need to ensure that privileged material is considered and handled appropriately. This is normal, common and expected.”

Roth told the senators in his earlier letter that his report had found that the leadership of Customs and Border Protection within DHS had “virtually no warning” for the travel ban, which places varying restrictions on travel to the US by nationals from certain countries – many of them with Muslim majorities – and has been the subject of litigation since its controversial release in January and subsequent rewrites.

The inspector general said that while Customs and Border Protection overall made a good-faith effort to implement the ban and follow court instructions, it did violate court orders in preventing travelers abroad from boarding airplanes to the US. And while he was able to find that some accusations of misconduct in the US did not occur, Roth said the office “cannot rule out that isolated abuse occurred.”

Regarding DHS’s assertion of privilege, Roth wrote that he was “very troubled” by the department’s efforts to stop the report’s release. He said it was the first time in his tenure that such an event had occurred.

“In fact, we regularly have published dozens of reports that delve into the department’s rationale for specific policies and decisions, and comment on the basis and process on which those decisions were made,” Roth wrote. “Indeed, that is at the heart of what inspectors general do.”

Roth met with one of the senators, Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, on Wednesday. In the meeting, Roth mentioned his retirement but said he was simply ready to retire and the decision was unrelated to the report, according to Duckworth’s office.

Still, after the meeting, Duckworth said she was very concerned about the potential for the Justice Department to try to stymie the report’s release. She said most of the inspectors general’s work has to do with deliberative processes.

“If you’re going to invoke a privilege and say that, ‘Sorry, we can’t discuss that’ or ‘we can’t talk about that because it goes to the deliberative process,’ then what you’re doing is you’re just shutting down the ability of the IG to do work,” Duckworth said in an interview. “It would be a significant departure that could really degrade the ability of IGs across government to do their work, which would be really concerning.”

Depending on DHS’s next steps, Duckworth is considering writing to inspectors general government-wide on whether they have faced a deliberative process issue before and, if the report continues to be unreleased, whether there are legislative options to strengthen the Inspector General Act, according to her office.

CNN’s David Shortell contributed to this report.