Here
and
Now

opinions

In legal battles against travel ban, Trump’s own statements are his worst enemy

26 Comments

Throughout the U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump boasted of his plan to ban Muslim visitors and immigrants from America. He often criticized Islam, conflating the religion with extremism, at campaign rallies and in television interviews. For more than a year, there were few consequences for Trump invoking an Islamic boogeyman.

But today, Trump is finally paying a political price for his attacks on Islam. On March 15, Derrick Watson, a federal judge in Hawaii, issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the president’s revised travel ban against citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from going into effect. In his ruling, the judge relied on extensive public comments by Trump and his advisers, which undermine the administration’s argument that its executive order did not amount to a “Muslim ban.” A second federal judge in Maryland issued a separate ruling which also delayed implementation of the policy.

Trump and his advisers — including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller — were so eager to prove their tough-on-Islam credentials during and after the campaign that they left a widespread trail of anti-Muslim rhetoric. Ironically, by being so outspoken about the ban and other measures, Trump and his aides undermined their ability to impose travel restrictions without running afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits discrimination against a religious group. In the legal battles waged so far, Trump’s own statements are his worst enemy.

During the campaign, Trump rarely missed an opportunity to exploit any attack against civilians in the West, whether directed by Islamic extremists or carried out by lone wolf assailants who were inspired by jihadist propaganda, to argue for harsh measures against Muslims in America. In December 2015, days after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California by a Muslim couple who declared their support for Islamic State’s leader, Trump whipped up his supporters at a campaign rally. He called for a ban on all Muslim immigrants and visitors from entering the United States — until American leaders “can figure out what the hell is going on.”

In his ruling, Judge Watson cited that comment and others by Trump and his surrogates during the campaign to conclude that the travel ban was primarily targeted against Muslims. “These plainly worded statements… betray the executive order’s stated secular purpose,” Watson wrote.

A federal judge in Maryland, Theodore Chuang, found that Trump’s public comments showed there are “strong indications that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose for the travel ban.”

Trump abruptly issued his original executive order on Jan 27, a week after his inauguration, unleashing chaos and mass protests at the nation’s airports. The directive temporarily banned travel from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The measure did not make exceptions for visa holders who were in transit as the ban went into effect, and was unclear whether it also applied to permanent U.S. residents who were citizens of the seven countries. Trump’s order also suspended refugee resettlement, and it suggested that Christian refugees and other minorities from the Muslim world would be given preference once refugees were again allowed into the United States.

The original ban sparked several lawsuits by civil rights groups and state attorneys general, and it was blocked by a federal judge in Seattle. On Feb 9, an appeals court upheld the judge’s ruling. That injunction prompted the Trump administration to issue a revised executive order on March 6, which dropped Iraq from the list of targeted countries and carved out exemptions for current visa and green card holders.

As the administration worked to amend Trump’s initial directive, some of the president’s aides appeared on television to suggest that the changes would be minor adjustments designed to get around court challenges. “Fundamentally, you’re still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country,” Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser, told Fox News on Feb 21. “But you’re going to be responsive to very technical issues that were brought up by the court.”

Miller’s comments gave state attorneys general and other groups that filed lawsuits an opening to portray the revised ban as only a cosmetic change from Trump’s initial policy. Both federal judges who issued injunctions last week, from Hawaii and Maryland, cited Miller’s interview in their rulings.

When Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, his rhetoric tapped into a growing undercurrent of Islamophobia that had spread throughout the United States. Trump stuck with his attack on Muslims because it proved to be one of his most popular issues, according to exit polls in several Republican primaries. In the crucial March 15, 2016 contests, polls of voters in the five states that held elections showed that two-thirds of Republican voters supported Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims.

At other points during the campaign, Trump called on law enforcement officials to increase surveillance of Muslim American communities and mosques. He also said he would consider registering Muslim Americans in a database, or requiring Muslims to carry special identification cards. He argued, with little evidence, that such measures would prevent future attacks on U.S. soil.

Trump won votes because he was willing to go further than any other candidate in tarnishing Muslims. In March 2016, during an interview with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Trump declared: “I think Islam hates us.” When Cooper asked him to clarify whether the religion is at war with the West, Trump added, “There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.”

One day after his CNN interview, the moderator of a Republican presidential debate asked Trump to clarify his comments: “Did you mean all 1.6 billion Muslims?”

"I mean a lot of them,” Trump replied, prompting cheers from the crowd.

In those interviews, Trump passed up several chances to differentiate between Islamic militants and the majority of the world’s Muslims. His statements did not get the sustained attention they deserved, because of a crowded field of Republican candidates and the tendency of politicians and many segments of the media not to take Trump at his word.

After securing the Republican presidential nomination last May, he refused to curtail his criticism of Islam to appeal to a wider American public in the general election. As long as the strategy of demonizing Islam won him votes, he had little incentive to disavow it.

On Tuesday his administration confirmed it is imposing new restrictions on electronic devices carried by travelers coming to the United States from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries, in response to unspecified terror threats.

But on the broader travel ban, Trump is at last paying a price for his dangerous rhetoric, thanks to judges who are holding him to his word.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
Login to comment

45 more months of Trump the Failure will ensure a democratic victory, even with the electoral college and gerrymandering.

45 months is a long time, when I picked up my first bass guitar, went from playing "Mary had a little lamb" to playing "Teen Town" by the sadly late Jaco Pastorius, a lot can change, more than enough time to sharpen his skills. As long as he can get tax reform into gear and focus haveily on the private sector, you might need to add another 45 months to that.

Already his worshipers are starting to slink away.

What a bunch of bull.

Give it a few months Bass and you'll look around and suddenly realize your group is as sparse as a Trump Inauguration.

And then as in typical liberal fashion, the Unicornverse starting to flutter in a colorful delight, followed by a bad trip. Lol

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Trump and the GOP on brink of a civil war

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think maybe in the future when liberals and Dems can put aside the rhetoric, the hate and the fierce ideology, get a real message, think about the working man, stop being PC about everything, they just might win some elections one again. But I'm not holding my breath. I'm not that naive.

45 more months of Trump the Failure will ensure a democratic victory, even with the electoral college and gerrymandering.

Already his worshipers are starting to slink away. Give it a few months Bass and you'll look around and suddenly realize your group is as sparse as a Trump Inauguration.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think maybe in the future when liberals and Dems can put aside the rhetoric, the hate and the fierce ideology, get a real message, think about the working man, stop being PC about everything, they just might win some elections one again. But I'm not holding my breath. I'm not that naive.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The liberals being out of power is a result of how radical and how faulty their policies are.

Nope. The Democrats not being in party is a result of gerrymandering and a broken electoral college.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I suspect you actually believe that.

I do.

Faulty logic

Actually, it's not. The liberals being out of power is a result of how radical and how faulty their policies are. A marginalized group.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Oh, it did, it really did.

I suspect you actually believe that. However, you've proven time and time again that you are unable to follow the subject of a conversation, and this is just one more instance where you've proven that.

If that were true then all libs would be in power, but that's not the case, so....

Faulty logic, seeing as it's is true, and the liberals aren't in power.

It's 2 months in, that's like criticizing the chef without trying the food.

That's like criticizing the chef when he brings out a turn on a plate for the appetizer.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Nope. Nothing.

Oh, it did, it really did.

Your lack of anything else proves me to have been correct.

If that were true then all libs would be in power, but that's not the case, so....

We were right that Trump would be a failure of a president.

It's 2 months in, that's like criticizing the chef without trying the food. Don't be spoiled now. Patience is a virtue. We still have 4 years to go.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

A lot.

Nope. Nothing.

No

Your lack of anything else proves me to have been correct.

Another liberal crystal ball. Like I said, I love the liberal tenacity. LOL

We were right that Trump would be a failure of a president.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What does your comment have to do with the fact that you were wrong with your claim that So far, liberal predictions have been wrong on every single issue?

A lot.

If I were a betting man, I'd say that you are trying to escape from the fact that you were wrong by diverting the topic to a different place.

No

Four more years of failure!

Another liberal crystal ball. Like I said, I love the liberal tenacity. LOL

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

And that's why liberals are the minority. Good luck!

What does your comment have to do with the fact that you were wrong with your claim that So far, liberal predictions have been wrong on every single issue? If I were a betting man, I'd say that you are trying to escape from the fact that you were wrong by diverting the topic to a different place.

Well, he's got 4 years

Four more years of failure!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You claimed that every prediction we made so far was wrong.

And that's why liberals are the minority. Good luck!

He's shown himself to be a failure faster than any president in history.

Well, he's got 4 years, so he'll be fine, I remember when Reagan was getting his butt kicked and he got 8 years. So it's all good, they all go through rough patches, been through this before. Good on Trump!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

No, everyone knew that was going to be a very tough one.

You claimed that every prediction we made so far was wrong. We predicted this would be a failure, and it was. So your claim that every prediction we've made so far being wrong, was in fact an incorrect claim.

Yeah, that's what the left thinks, but who cares, it's just 2 months

Right! He's shown himself to be a failure faster than any president in history.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We predicted this attempt at repealing healthcare would be a failure.

No, everyone knew that was going to be a very tough one. That wasn't a prediction, it was trying to be hopeful.

We also predicted Trump would be a failure.

Yeah, that's what the left thinks, but who cares, it's just 2 months, no worries, they don't count or have any say. The biggest failure left office last year and thankfully, we have that behind us.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

So far, liberal predictions have been wrong on every single issue.

We predicted this attempt at repealing healthcare would be a failure. We also predicted Trump would be a failure.

If he can get tax reform and get jobs in check, he easily slide to a second term.

And I'll put out my predictions that he'll fail on both of those as well.

Face it, you backed a turd.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Everyone I've talked to has said no way is he going to survive until the midterm elections. fingers crossed

So far, liberal predictions have been wrong on every single issue. If he can get tax reform and get jobs in check, he easily slide to a second term. Kudos!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The judge's decision should have been based only on the legal language of the Executive Order and the oral arguments presented in court. To include statements made outside of the court room and in the heat of a political campaign should not have entered into the decision making.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Strangerland - You neglected to mention one item ! Tweeter-in-Chief - Administration - FAILED ! ! ! (before the first 100 days at that !)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

MsDeliciousMAR. 24, 2017 - 12:15PM JST Yes, many of the Strangerland.

Name one. With evidence.

Let Trump be.

Yeah! Leave B̶r̶i̶t̶n̶e̶y̶ Donald alone! He's only trying to abuse thousands of innocent people because of their religion. What did he ever do to you? I swear, you bullies with your Internet comments demanding truth and rational governance and adherence to the Constitution! Why can't you just let a 70-year old, sexual assaulting man-child and his trophy wife get paid to golf in Florida on the Taxpayers' dime every weekend in peace?!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yes, many of the Strangerland.

Nope. There has never been a president that has been this much of a failure this soon into his presidency.

This can only get better.

No, it can definitely get much, much worse.

Even at ¥45,000 a month, it is far better than what is happening in America.

I have absolutely no idea what this comment is in reference to.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Yes, many of the Strangerland.

Let Trump be. Good things always come from bad. This can only get better. But on the other hand, I am sure glad I have Japanese health insurance. Even at ¥45,000 a month, it is far better than what is happening in America.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Trump pledges:

Ban Muslims - failed.

Repeal Obamacare - failed.

I expect to only add to this un-checklist over the coming months.

Has there ever been a president that was this much of a failure less than three months into their presidency?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The far right, Islamophobes, and Nazi groups love to berate the press for not reporting what they want to be true as true, so they throw around terms like "fake news" (or if you're in their confidences enough for them to feel comfortable showing you their true colors, "lügenpresse") to try and discredit any story that doesn't say what they want said.

Just recently we had a poster on here trying to pretend that since no one in the press was reporting anything good about the Republican health care proposal, that must be a giant sign of conspiracy in the press to malign it - as opposed to a simple case of there being nothing good to say about the proposal. That's another trick they use - when their side looks bad, pretend the press is biased.

But there is one way that our press actually has failed us:

In those interviews, Trump passed up several chances to differentiate between Islamic militants and the majority of the world’s Muslims. His statements did not get the sustained attention they deserved, because of a crowded field of Republican candidates and the tendency of politicians and many segments of the media not to take Trump at his word.

Our media today is profit-driven and profit comes from page views, not substantive analysis or taking the effort to investigate deeply. The media widely reported many of the hateful, bigoted things that Trump said, but in a way to trigger responses from people who rightfully condemn that sort of thing, not in a way that actually engages with the political party that endorsed his bigotry. If America is to make it through this century, we need a new model for journalism that doesn't rely on click-bait headlines to make readers mad but not inform them of useful information. We need substantive, meaningful analysis that educates the public.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Tweeter-in-Chief is THE WORLD'S worst enemy !

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Everyone I've talked to has said no way is he going to survive until the midterm elections. fingers crossed

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Welcome to the real world Mr. Trump where there are consequences to actions.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites