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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Washington’s rebel goes into self-destruct mode, attacks his own Justice Department over ‘travel ban’

Watered down, politically correct

Share on Facebook June 6, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 693


WASHINGTON, U.S. - Trump’s tweets are soon becoming the right concoction for someone who is on a self-destruct mode. BNN
On Monday, a day after the devastating terror attacks in London claimed seven lives, Donald Trump set out to defend his initial executive order on the ‘travel ban.’
In criticising what he called a “watered down, politically correct” version of his first travel ban, he thrashed his own Justice Department’s handling of the case, with experts pointing out that he has now potentially hurt the efforts to restore the order. 
Trump derided the revised travel ban, hurting the administration’s defense of the ban at a time when the long-drawn legal battle over it has reached a critical new stage.
In a tweet on Monday morning, Trump, ignoring the fact that he himself signed the executive order replacing the first ban, called the revised version of it, “politically correct.”
The revised version targeted only six, rather than seven, Muslim-majority countries and blocked the issuance of new visas, rather than revoking current ones.
He said  the Justice Department should seek a “much tougher version.”
What could prove to be more damaging was his bold clarification that the executive order is a “ban,” not a pause on some sources of immigration or an enhanced vetting system - in contradiction to his own press secretary’s past remarks. 
Sean Spicer spent a lot of time in a briefing earlier, telling reporters, “It’s not a travel ban. When we use words like travel ban, that misrepresents what it is.”
At the time, John F. Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, also rejected the phrase. 
He said, “This is not a travel ban. This is a temporary pause that allows us to better review the existing refugee and visa vetting system.”
Trump however declared on Twitter on Monday, “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” 
The ban, which has been put on hold by two federal courts, is now facing a Supreme Court showdown after the Justice Department last week filed a petition seeking a review of the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, that blocked the order.
The government, in its filing has also urged the justices to decide whether to hear the case before they leave for their summer break.
However, even if the hearing is held swiftly, it would still defer arguments to the fall, with a decision to follow.
The government said in its brief last Thursday, “The stakes are indisputably high: The court of appeals concluded that the president acted in bad faith with religious animus when, after consulting with three members of his cabinet, he placed a brief pause on entry from six countries that present heightened risks of terrorism.”
Lawyers pointed out that it would take four votes to grant a petition seeking review - called a petition for certiorari.
Meanwhile, the administration is also said to have made two interim requests, asking the courts to stay two rulings blocking parts of the travel ban - which would inevitably revive the ban, while the justices decide how to respond to the petition.
Granting a stay would require five votes. 
However, at the heart of it, the basic issue in the case is that the Trump administration seeks to limit travel from six mostly Muslim countries while it reviews its vetting procedures. 
It has argued that the move is justified by the need to keep the nation safe, with the DOJ lawyers repeatedly pointing out that presidents have almost unlimited discretion to make national security judgments and to control immigration.
On the other hand, people and groups challenging Trump’s executive order have argued that it is a product of religious intolerance and the culmination of his campaign pledges to institute a “Muslim ban.”
Opposers further argue that it violates the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion - an argument that several courts have agreed.
The case now presents the Supreme Court with the opportunity to issue a major constitutional ruling on the scope of presidential power as the Justice Department has said in its appeal, “This order has been the subject of passionate political debate. But whatever one’s views, the precedent set by this case for the judiciary’s proper role in reviewing the president’s national security and immigration authority will transcend this debate, this order, and this constitutional moment.”
However, Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center has vowed, “Again and again, our nation’s courts have found that President Trump’s Muslim ban is unconstitutional. We will continue to defend our plaintiffs’ right to live free from fear of discriminatory treatment by the federal government.”
Next week, those suing are expected to file arguments on the matter with the Supreme Court, and experts now believe that Trump’s latest remarks will surely be a part of their briefs. 
Instantly after Trump tweeted on Monday, Neal Katyal, the lawyer who argued for the challengers in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said on Twitter, “Its kinda odd to have the defendant in HawaiivTrump acting as our co-counsel. We don’t need the help but will take it!” 
He also wrote that he was “waiting now for the inevitable cover-my-tweet posts from him that the Solicitor General will no doubt insist upon.”
But that was not all, George Conway, the husband of White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway and one-time top contender of a key Justice Department job too criticized Trump’s tweets on Monday
Conway said Trump hurt his case and made things difficult for the Office of Solicitor General, which argues cases before the Supreme Court.
He said, “These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won't help OSG (abbeviations for Office of Solicitor General) get 5 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters. Sad."
Conway recently took himself out of the running to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Division.
Trump issued the original travel ban in January, but that order was blocked by the courts and led to a massive backlash and protests across the country.
Then, in March, the president issued a revised ban aimed at defusing the controversy and defeating court challenges. 
However, ever since the case reached the court earlier this year, the Justice Department has repeatedly tried to distance Trump's comments as President and those he made during the campaign - from the case.
Further, with Federal judges across the country focussing acutely on Trump’s own comments in ordering the ban be frozen - the move by the President would not go down well with the Justice Department that is defending his case and his policies in court.
Judges have also determined that the president’s words expose the measure as being a tool for discrimination disguised as a national security directive.
Trump’s revived call for the travel ban comes in the aftermath of the weekend's terror attacks in London. 
Trump said on Monday, “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!"
Trump also wrote, “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.”
He then tweeted, “The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!”
Later adding, “In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!”
Meanwhile, commenting on the President’s tweets, Sen. Ben Cardin said Trump's latest words attacking his own Justice Department revealed his true desire to use the ban to discriminate on religious grounds.
The Maryland Democrat said, “It clearly shows his intent. His lawyers try to justify it by saying it wasn't a travel ban, but it was extreme vetting. The President made that clear. It is a travel ban."
Further, University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck posted on Twitter, “In case it’s not obvious, these will only undermine the government’s case before #SCOTUS for both a stay & on the merits of the #TravelBan. These will also go a long way toward mooting debate over use of campaign statements; no need when, as President, he still says these things.”


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