President Trump’s First DefeatExcept:
"It's working out very nicely,” President Donald Trump said on Saturday afternoon as he signed his latest batch of executive actions. “You see it in the airports.”
It was the usual confident swagger from a man accustomed to getting his way. But by then, a revolt against the president’s immigration order was already brewing.... By 7:30 in the evening, protests at major airports across the United States had swollen, a federal judge was hearing a legal challenge, and cable news networks -- with one notable exception -- were covering the stunning events live....
Was this what Trump had in mind? ...
... what was meant as a bold assertion of presidential prerogative and a down payment on his promise to “eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth” has dealt President Trump his first political defeat, and energized his opponents....
The judge’s ruling blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order. But it stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.And:
The ACLU is getting “multiple reports” that federal customs agents are siding with President Trump -- and willfully ignoring a Brooklyn federal judge’s demand that travelers from seven Muslim countries not be deported from the nation’s airports.Which has a Brooklyn/Queens congressman (and possible mayoral candidate) concerned:
En route to JFK to determine if Feds are trying to send refugees back home in defiance of Federal court order— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) January 29, 2017
Politico's Hounshell thinks this is a problem for the administration because it wasn't handled smoothly:
... as a sheer matter of governance, it augurs poorly. Other administrations might have carefully briefed reporters on the details of the new policy, prepared the public, put exemptions in place, clarified exactly who would be affected. They might have crafted an outreach strategy to key allies to explain the president’s reasoning and hear out any concerns. The Trump team seems to have done none of that.Conservative Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin, a consistent critic of Trump, thinks the lack of consultation with officials outside a tiny West Wing cabal ought to pose problems for two of Trump's Cabinet appointees:
White House aides briefing the press on Saturday afternoon claimed they had worked for weeks with key officials in the relevant agencies, but there were few signs of that....
The Trump administration also seemed surprisingly unprepared to argue its case in court. During her hearing, Judge Donnelly reportedly asked the government’s lawyers whether they considered if those detained -- about 200 people, in the ACLU’s estimation -- would suffer harm if they were sent back to their home countries. When they didn’t come up with a persuasive answer, she responded, "I think the government hasn't had a full chance to think about this."
Sen. Sessions + Tillerson need to testify before vote. If they were excluded, WH heads must role. If in on it, can't be confirmed— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) January 29, 2017
But Hounshell and Rubin have a pre-11/8/16 mindset. No Republican is going to challenge Sessions or Tillerson on this -- every Republican in the Senate will vote for both of them, and they'll be confirmed. There'll be only scattered Republican criticism of the executive order, which is still very much in effect. Hounshell writes:
Judge Donnelly’s stay is only temporary; she made no ruling on whether Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional, as the ACLU claims. And her ruling has no impact on those who have yet to board flights to the United States, and will presumably be barred from doing so. Presidents are usually granted broad authority in setting immigration policy, and the Trump administration can probably retool its order even if the courts take further action.And yet he concludes:
But on Saturday night, for at least a few hours, the president’s opponents tasted a rare victory.Nope. Not good enough. The order has to be overturned and the president has to be prevented from either modifying it slightly or ignoring the courts altogether. And the damage to America's reputation as a place where Muslims are welcome has suffered irreparable damage in any case.
The administration has suffered a setback. It's not nearly enough.