President Donald Trump complained Monday morning that his travel ban executive order, one that the White House on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to reinstate, had been “watered down” by the Justice Department in order to pass legal muster.
Still, he wrote on Twitter, the controversial measure is necessary despite the legal hurdles it has faced thus far.
“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!” Trump wrote early Monday morning in a multi-post flurry. “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.”
The travel ban, which would block individuals from six majority-Muslim nations from entering the U.S. and halts the flow of refugees into the country, was one of Trump’s most high-profile campaign promises, the evolution of a pledge made during the Republican primary to ban all Muslims from entering.
But the measure, the introduction of which sparked chaos at international airports around the country when it was first signed, has been rejected by courts at multiple levels. In many cases, the president’s own rhetoric has worked against him, including in a decision by a Virginia-based federal appeals court two weeks ago to leave in place a court order blocking the ban. There, the court’s majority opinion wrote that the executive order “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”
The president’s renewed public-facing attention to the travel ban also seemingly stems from a terrorist attack over the weekend in London, for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, that left at least seven people killed and 48 hospitalized. The attack prompted an outburst of Twitter activity from the president, who wrote Saturday night that “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!”
After the first version of the executive order was blocked by the courts, Trump signed another version that was intended not to snag on legal hurdles but has nonetheless still been blocked by judges. The president signed the new order, with input from the Department of Justice, in early March. A week later at a rally in Nashville, Trump told the crowd that “I wasn’t thrilled” with the new, pared-back order but that he had tailored it at the suggestion of administration lawyers.
“This is a watered–down version,” he said. “And let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first one.”
In its Thursday filing, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to temporarily remove lower court orders blocking the president’s travel ban and to add it to the court’s upcoming docket this fall. Monday morning, Trump said the Department of Justice should seek expedited judgment from the Supreme Court.
In the meantime, he said, the government will continue to make good on Trump’s promise of conducting “extreme vetting” of those entering the U.S.
“The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court – & seek much tougher version!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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!”