Trump team plans a new executive order
Licking their wounds following a stinging appeals court defeat, President Donald Trump’s aides went into triage mode Friday as they consider options for salvaging his contested travel ban for citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.
During a press conference Friday with the prime minister of Japan, Trump suggested that the White House is trying to redraft the order to strengthen it against legal challenges, which he expects the administration to continue to fight in court.
“We’ll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country,” Trump said, without offering details. “You’ll be seeing that sometime in the next week. In addition, we will continue to go through the court process and, ultimately, I have no doubt that we’ll win that particular case.”
Trump could ask the Supreme Court to step in and do what the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to do Thursday: allow him to reinstate his executive order. However, the president said nothing during his press conference about taking the issue to the justices.
“We will be extreme vetting,” Trump vowed. “We will not allow people into our country who are looking to do harm to our people.”
Trump’s controversial directive, signed Jan. 27, banned travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries and suspending the admission of refugees from across the globe. It was put on ice last week by a federal judge in Seattle, a ruling that was upheld on Thursday by the 9th Circuit.
During a hearing Friday morning in federal court in Virginia on one of more than 20 lawsuits attacking Trump’s order, a federal government lawyer said no decision had been made about how to respond to the unanimous ruling from the three-judge appeals court panel.
“We may appeal. We may not. We may take other action,” Justice Department attorney Erez Reuveni said. “All options are being considered.”
The Virginia hearing was another vivid illustration of the difficulties the Trump administration has encountered in court as it seeks to defend the president’s travel ban order, which sought to halt travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, among other steps. The president has repeatedly said the directive was intended to prevent any possibility of terrorist acts from such travelers, as well as refugees, even though such episodes are exceedingly rare.
U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema pleaded with federal government lawyers to provide some factual evidence to support the order or explain how it addressed a real threat.
“The courts have been begging you to give some information supporting a rational justifications [that the targeted countries pose] a unique threat,” the judge said. “You haven’t given us any evidence whatsoever.”
Justice Department attorneys have argued that the national security issues involved in Trump’s decision should not be the province of the courts, but Brinkema—who handled the trial of September 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui—dismissed that contention.