Trump steps up attack on judge, court system over travel ban
WASHINGTONU.S. President Donald Trump on Feb. 5 ramped up his criticism of a federal judge who blocked a travel ban on seven mainly Muslim nations and said courts were making U.S. border security harder, intensifying the first major legal battle of his presidency.
In a series of tweets that broadened his attack on the country’s judiciary, Trump said Americans should blame U.S. District Judge James Robart and the court system if anything happened.
Trump did not elaborate on what threats the country potentially faced. He added that he had told the Department of Homeland Security to “check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!”
The Republican president labeled Robart a “so-called judge” on Feb. 4, a day after the Seattle jurist issued a temporary restraining order that prevented enforcement of a 90-day ban on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day bar on all refugees.
A U.S. appeals court later on Feb. 4 denied the government’s request for an immediate stay of the ruling.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump earlier on Feb. 5, even as some Republicans encouraged the businessman-turned-politician to tone down his broadsides against the judicial branch of government.
“The president of the United States has every right to criticize the other two branches of government,” Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
It is unusual for a sitting president to attack a member of the judiciary, which the U.S. Constitution designates as a check on the power of the executive branch and Congress.
The ruling by Robart, appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, coupled with the decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to deny the government’s request for an immediate stay of the ruling dealt a blow to Trump barely two weeks into his presidency.
It could also be the precursor to months of legal challenges to his push to clamp down on immigration, including through the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, and complicate the confirmation battle of his U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
The uncertainty caused by the judge’s stay of the ban has opened a window for travelers from the seven affected countries to enter the United States.
Top technology giants, including Apple, Google and Microsoft banded together with nearly 100 companies on Sunday to file a legal brief opposing Trump’s immigration ban, arguing that it “inflicts significant harm on American business.”
Noting that “immigrants or their children founded more than 200 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list,” the brief said Trump’s order “represents a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years.”