Sunday, February 5, 2017
'Lack of respect': Democrats hit back at Trump's outrage over travel ban ruling
After Donald Trump slammed a federal judge for a ruling that placed a nationwide halt on his freeze on refugee admissions to the US and travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, the Democratic leader in the Senate blasted the president for a “lack of respect for the constitution”.
James Robart, a US district judge in Seattle, temporarily blocked Trump’s executive order late on Friday. On Saturday, the state department and Department of Homeland Security said travel from the affected countries and refugee entry to the US would resume, pending an application for a stay on Robart’s ruling.
Regardless, Trump tweeted: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”
In a statement, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump had shown “a disdain for an independent judiciary that doesn’t always bend to his wishes and a continued lack of respect for the constitution”.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, said: “No matter how many times the president attacks this judge … it won’t change the fact that this ban is unconstitutional, immoral and dangerous.
“The nationwide hold on the president’s ban order is a victory for our values, our security and our constitution.”
Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democratic on the Senate judiciary committee, issued a stinging rebuke of what he said was the president’s “hostility toward the rule of law”, which he called “not just embarrassing [but] dangerous”.
“He seems intent on precipitating a constitutional crisis,” Leahy said, adding: “He fired the nation’s top law enforcement official [acting attorney general Sally Yates] for recognizing that his so-called ‘travel ban’ was indefensible. It is in fact an arbitrary and shameful attempt to discriminate against Muslims.
“Last year, he made baseless accusations and attacked a federal judge [Gonzalo Curiel, in a case regarding Trump University] because of his ethnic heritage. And now he is attempting to bully and disparage yet another federal judge … for having the audacity to do his job and apply the rule of the law.”
The first White House response to the Seattle ruling came on Friday night, with a promise to appeal and a defense of the order as “lawful and appropriate”.
“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.
The order has also prompted opposition and concern worldwide. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill this week that close US allies, such as King Abdullah II of Jordan, had voiced their own concerns.
“Obviously, the King did mention recent policies would have an effect and are having an effect,” Corker said. “But this is a temporary policy, and I think they’re trying to determine how people are being vetted and maybe this is something [that] four or five months is in our rearview mirror.”
On Saturday, the offices of Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan declined to comment on the Seattle ruling.
Some Republicans have characterized the order as overly broad and questioned the administration’s decision not to consult congressional leaders or the newly appointed heads of the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.
Ryan, however, has been among the more vocal defenders of the travel ban, insisting its intent is rooted not in religion but in national security.
“This is not a Muslim ban,” Ryan said at a press conference on Thursday. “If it were, I would be against it. This loose rhetoric that suggests this is a religious test or Muslim ban is wrong.”
However, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a top Trump surrogate who was considered for secretary of state, said the president had asked him how to implement a Muslim ban that would pass legal muster.
“I’ll tell you the whole history of it,” Giuliani told Fox News last week. “When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban’. He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”
Spicer has insisted the order is not a Muslim ban. On Saturday, however, Trump tweeted: “Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!”