By Darlene Superville
PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump lashed out Saturday at “this so-called judge” who put a nationwide hold on his executive order denying entry to the U.S. to refugees and people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The ruling set in motion another weekend of confusion and chaos around the country.
The White House pledged to swiftly appeal the federal judge’s ruling late Friday, but that didn’t appear to be enough for Trump, who vented his frustrations on Twitter.
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump said.
Trump has said the travel ban, which he enacted by executive order on Jan. 27, will keep Americans safe by keeping potential terrorists from entering the country.
He also said Saturday on Twitter that “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!”
U.S. District Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee who received a unanimous Senate confirmation in 2004, ruled late Friday in Seattle against government lawyers’ claims that Washington state and Minnesota, which sued over the ban, lacked the legal grounds to challenge Trump’s order. Robart said the states showed that their case was likely to succeed.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said late Friday that the Justice Department would appeal the “outrageous” order “at the earliest possible time. Spicer quickly issued an amended statement that deleted “outrageous.”
“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” Spicer said, calling the order both lawful and appropriate.
Trump billed the action as necessary to stop “radical Islamic terrorists” from coming to the U.S.
The order included a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen, a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program, and an indefinite bar against admitting Syrian refugees.
The decision sparked protests nationwide and confusion at airports as some travelers were detained. More protests were planned for this weekend, including at Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending the weekend.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in New York issued an emergency order after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition on behalf of people from the seven countries who were detained at airports nationwide as the ban took effect.
Donnelly’s order addressed only a portion of Trump’s order, and barred U.S. border agents from removing anyone who arrived in the U.S. with a valid visa from the seven countries. Robart’s decision was more sweeping in scope.
Saturday was not the first instance of Trump criticizing a federal judge, a member of an independent branch of the government.
During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized the federal judge who was presiding over a lawsuit brought by former students of Trump University. Trump claimed that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana, had an “absolute conflict” in handling the case because he is “of Mexican heritage.” Trump launched his presidential campaign with a harsh description of Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers.
Trump recently agreed to pay $25 million to settle the lawsuits against Trump University.