On Monday, US president Donald Trump took to Twitter, referred to his executive order on immigration as a "travel ban", and seemed to publicly chastise his justice department for submitting a "watered down and politically correct version" to the US Supreme Court.
The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
Trump then went even further:
That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
To quote former vice-president Joe Biden: "This is a big f$%^$% deal."
Trump's tweets have put the US justice department and his aides in a seemingly impossible position: Trying to characterise the executive order as something other than a "travel ban" while the US president loudly proclaims otherwise to his millions of Twitter followers.
CNN reported that early in the administration, White House press secretary Sean Spicer chided reporters for calling Trump's plan a travel ban. "When we use words like travel ban, that misrepresents what it is," Spicer said during a 31 January press briefing.
Spicer has also made it a habit of saying "The president's tweets speak for themselves." Indeed.
Incidentally, Spicer has been absent from press briefings of late, a fact which was chalked up to the fact that the White House does not having a communications director and that he had to take up "extra responsibility."
It will be fascinating to see when Spicer next holds a press conference and how he tries to spin the president's latest tweets, which, remember speak for themselves.
Meanwhile on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, answering questions from reporters about why Trump was publicly contradicting his aides, did her best to dodge the issue, telling reporters that Trump "isn't concerned with what you call it," and that he was only worried about protecting Americans.
Sanders said the president had asked the justice department to pursue an expedited hearing at the Supreme Court, adding that Trump "wants to go as far and as strong as possible under the Constitution to protect the people of this country." Still, she said he'd signed the revised ban "for the purposes of expediency" and wasn't considering a third version of the ban.
The justice department, meanwhile has found itself in an almighty legal tangle before the courts. They have been arguing that the executive order on immigration was based on credible national security concerns unrelated to religion, and his campaign statements should be ignored. Remember, candidate Trump had called for a "Muslim ban".
Those comments came back to haunt him by the time he became president in January, after the courts halted his initial order which banned travel from seven majority-Muslim countries and indefinitely halted entry to Syrian refugees, calling it unconstitutional.
Trump begrudgingly scaled back the order by removing Iraq from the list and making the Syria refugee ban only temporary, but that order was blocked by the courts, too, who stated that his order was "rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country."
Meanwhile, conservative commentator and one-time Trump booster Joe Scarborough mocked the US president for his tweets on his MSNBC show, calling him a "dope", discussed how the administration was having trouble keeping their story straight on whether it was or was not a "travel ban". He ended his show by thanking Trump for watching the program.
When is a travel ban not a travel ban? Trump WH in their own words. pic.twitter.com/xZo6ntGCJI
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) June 5, 2017
With inputs from AP
Updated Date: Jun 06, 2017 19:13 PM