An irked President Donald Trump has hit out at a US judge who blocked his controversial travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations, saying Americans should blame the judge and the courts “if something happens”.
The US president’s ire was aimed at San Francisco District Judge James Robart, who put a nationwide hold on Trump’s executive order barring citizens of seven countries from entering the US for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely halts refugees from Syria.
“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” Trump tweeted, not just attacking Judge Robart’s decision but going after him who may yet make more decisions on the matter this week.
At the same time, Trump said that he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to do a very “careful” check of those entering the country after the court order.
“I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!”
Trump’s criticism comes after the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in a brief order, denied the administration’s request to set aside Robart’s ruling that put a temporary hold on the ban.
Trump says the 90-day travel ban on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and a 120-day bar on all refugees, are necessary to protect the United States from Islamist militants.
The travel restrictions have drawn protests in the US, provoked criticism from US allies and created chaos for thousands of people who have, in some cases, spent years seeking asylum.
In his ruling, Robart questioned the use of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States as a justification for the ban, saying no attacks had been carried out on US soil by individuals from the seven affected countries since then.
For Trump’s order to be constitutional, Judge Robart said, it had to be “based in fact, as opposed to fiction”.
In a series of tweets on Saturday, Trump had attacked the opinion of this “so-called judge” as “ridiculous”.
US Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday called the rulinga “wrong decision” and vowed the Trump administration will take “all legal means” to protect the country.
“We believe the judge made the wrong decision, the Boston court made the right decision. We’re going to continue to use all legal means at our disposal to stay that order and move forward to take the steps necessary to protect our country,” Pence told Fox News.
Meanwhile, CNN, quoting people close to the White House said that Trump’s attacks will be a problem -- particularly as his administration shepherds his Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch toward confirmation.
“No one was happy the President attacked the judge,” one official said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was not the best idea to attack judges.
“I think it’s best not to single out judges for criticism. We all get disappointed from time to time,” he said, before Trump’s latest tweet.
Friday’s ruling has also seen visa holders from the affected nations scramble to get flights to the US, fearing they have a slim window to enter.
The State Department has been reversing visa cancellations and US homeland security employees have been told by their department to comply with the ruling.
The ban caused confusion at US and foreign airports when it came into force.