In Twitter post, U.S. president claims Washington state judge’s ruling will be overturned.
The U.S. government began to roll back Donald Trump’s contentious visa bans targeting majority-Muslim countries on Saturday, after a stinging legal defeat for the new president.
Government agencies and U.S. airlines said they would again recognize visas from seven majority Muslim nations and cease enforcing the Trump’s order, after a Washington State judge put a block pending legal review. The high profile setback provoked Trump to fire off an attack on the judge, almost unprecedented for sitting president.
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump tweeted early Saturday from his Mar-a-Lago Florida retreat, where he is on a three-night getaway.
U.S. District Judge James Robart of Washington State—an appointee of Republican president George W. Bush—issued a nationwide order blocking Trump’s bans late Friday. By early Saturday, the U.S. government began implementing the judge’s order.
The State Department told visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen that they are again allowed to travel as long as the documents had not been “physically cancelled.” The department early said up to 60,000 people had their visas revoked as a result of Trump’s order, although a Justice Department attorney put the number at closer to 100,000.
The Department of Homeland Security—which runs border agencies—also said it would cease implementing the order.
The travel restrictions went into effect a week ago, wreaking havoc at airports across America and leaving travelers trying to reach the United States in limbo. The political backlash for Trump has been equally severe, with the order fueling numerous mass protests and internal White House infighting.
Anti-Trump protests continued for a third consecutive weekend on Saturday, with demonstrations springing up from London to U.S. cities.
Trump was forced to defend a botched rollout of the plan—which called his government’s competence into question—and had to fire the government’s top lawyer for refusing to defend the order in court.
His approval rating has sunk to the lowest level on record for any new president.
His latest rhetorical outburst is only likely to stoke the controversy. Presidents from Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama have criticized court rulings, but have rarely, if ever, criticized individual judges.
“I can’t think of anything like it in the past century and a half at least,” said constitutional scholar and Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe. “It’s not exactly contempt of court, but it certainly is contemptuous,” said Tribe, who taught two sitting Supreme Court justices as well as president Obama—whom he later advised.
“It conveys a lack of respect for the independent judiciary that bodes ill for the country’s future as long as Trump occupies the presidency,” Tribe said.
Democrats in Congress were swift in their condemnation of Trump’s remarks, while Republicans notably did not rush to his defense. “This ‘so-called’ judge was nominated by a ‘so-called’ President & was confirmed by the ‘so-called’ Senate. Read the ‘so-called’ Constitution,” tweeted California democrat, Congressman Adam Schiff.
The White House has argued that the travel bans are needed in order to prevent terror attacks on the United States. Experts from the fields of intelligence, counterterrorism and diplomacy say the ban is at best ineffective and at worst fuels hatred of the United States in the Middle East. But cracking down on Islamist terror has become an organizing principle for Trump supporters and the White House has consistently sought to underscore the risks posed to Americans.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed a plurality of voters, 48 percent favored “suspending immigration from ‘terror prone’ regions.”
“When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security – big trouble!” Trump tweeted early Saturday.