Trump's Comments on Muslims at Center of Travel Ban Case - NECN
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

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Trump's Comments on Muslims at Center of Travel Ban Case

Of the 13 judges on the panel, three were appointed by Republican presidents and nine were appointed by Democrats

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    NEWSLETTERS

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer was on the defensive in his Monday afternoon press conference when speaking about President Donald Trump's travel ban appeal and the Kushner family's attempt to recruit Chinese investors for an "investor visa" program. He said "[Kushner] wasn't involved." (Published Monday, May 8, 2017)

    A challenge to President Donald Trump's revised travel ban appears to hinge on whether a federal appeals court agrees that the Republican's past anti-Muslim statements can be used against him.

    The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrestled Monday with whether the court should look beyond the text of the executive order to comments made by Trump and his aides on the campaign trail and after his election in order to determine whether the policy illegally targets Muslims.

    "That's the most important issue in the whole case," said Judge Robert B. King, who was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton.

    The panel of 13 judges peppered both sides with tough questions but gave few clues as to how they might rule. The judges did not immediately issue a decision on Monday.

    Trump Travel Ban Blocked as Budget Plan Looms on Safety Nets

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    A revised travel ban penned by President Donald Trump was held by a Hawaii judge the same day it was supposed to go into effect on Wednesday as Trump laid out a new budget plan, setting money aside for a border wall along Mexico and the United States as well as increasing the military's budget. Critics are worried that social safety net programs could see their budget slashed. 

    (Published Thursday, March 16, 2017)

    A federal judge in Maryland who blocked the travel ban in March cited Trump's comments as evidence that the executive order is a realization of Trump's repeated promise to bar Muslims from entering the country.

    The administration argues that the court shouldn't question the president's national security decisions based on campaign promises.

    "This is not a Muslim ban. Its text doesn't have to anything to do with religion. Its operation doesn't have anything to do with religion," Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall told the appeals court.

    The countries were chosen because they present terrorism risks and the ban applies to everyone in those countries regardless of religion, Wall said. Further, the banned countries represent a small fraction of the world's Muslim-majority nations, lawyers for the administration say in court documents.

    Omar Jadwat, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, noted that Trump's call for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the U.S. remained on his campaign website even after he took office. That call, which was still online earlier Monday, appeared to have been taken down by the afternoon hearing.

    Jadwat claims the administration has failed to provide a legitimate national security reason for the policy.

    "The order is completely unprecedented in our nation's history," Jadwat said.

    Several judges expressed skepticism about the idea that the court would blind itself to Trump's comments about Muslims.

    "Don't we get to consider what was actually said here and said very explicitly?" asked Judge James A. Wynn Jr., who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

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    (Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)

    Another judge said he was worried about the idea of court opening the door to using a president's past to evaluate the constitutionality of a policy.

    "Can we look at his college speeches? How about his speeches to business men 20 years ago?" asked Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who was tapped by President Ronald Reagan.

    The first travel ban in January triggered chaos and protests across the country as travelers were stopped from boarding international flights and detained at airports for hours.

    Alabama GOP Senate Candidate Roy Moore Holds News Conference After Two New Accusers Emerge

    [NATL] Alabama GOP Senate Candidate Roy Moore Holds News Conference After Two New Accusers Emerge

    Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore held a news conference surrounded by religious leaders Thursday after two more women accused him of pursuing them when they were teenagers.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)

    After a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused in February to let the travel ban take effect, the administration tweaked the order and issued a new one.

    The new version made it clear the 90-day ban covering those six countries doesn't apply to those who already have valid visas. It removed language that would give priority to religious minorities and erased Iraq from the list of banned countries.

    But critics said while the new executive order impacts fewer people, it remains a realization of Trump's promised Muslim ban and cannot stand.

    Radio Host Tweeden Accuses Sen. Franken of Nonconsensual Groping, Kissing

    [NATL] Radio Host Tweeden Accuses Sen. Franken of Nonconsensual Groping, Kissing

    Radio host and Fox News panelist Leeann Tweeden held a press conference Thursday detailing her experience on a 2006 USO tour with then-comedian Al Franken and alleged that Franken forcibly kissed her during a skit written by Franken. She also said he groped her while she was asleep, providing photographic evidence. Sen. Franken has issued an apology and is open to a Senate Ethics Committee investigation. Tweeden accepted Franken’s apology.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)

    The ACLU and National Immigration Law Center brought the case on behalf of several organizations, as well as people who live in the U.S. and fear the executive order will prevent them from being reunited with family members from the banned countries.

    Elite universities, democratic attorneys general and former foreign policy and national security officials like ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called on the court to block the travel ban.

    Meanwhile, a group of 12 state attorneys general and the governor of Mississippi argued that the action is not a "pretext for religious discrimination" and should be allowed to take effect.

    Sen. Menendez's Bribery Trial Ends in Hung Jury

    [NATL] Sen. Menendez's Bribery Trial Ends in Hung Jury

    The federal bribery trial of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez ended in a mistrial Thursday when the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on all charges against the New Jersey politician and a wealthy donor. Prosecutors did not immediately say whether they plan to retry the lawmaker.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)

    Attorneys for the president likely see the moderate 4th Circuit as friendlier territory than the 9th Circuit, which conservatives have long accused of being too liberal. Three 9th Circuit judges appointed by Clinton are scheduled to hear a more-sweeping challenge to Trump's revised travel ban next week.

    While the 4th Circuit was long considered one of the most conservative appeals courts in the country, it moved to the center under Obama, who appointed six of the 15 active judges.

    Two Republican-appointed judges — Judge Allyson K. Duncan and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III — didn't hear the travel ban case. Wilkinson's daughter is married to the acting solicitor general. It was not immediately clear why Duncan was recused.

    Trump Making Another Appeal for Tax Reform

    [NATL] Trump Making Another Appeal for Tax Reform

    President Donald Trump heads to Capitol Hill Thursday to make a personal appeal for tax reform hours before a critical vote.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)