A US appeals court has turned down Trump administration’s plea to urgently overturn a stay on the president’s controversial travel ban on visa holders of seven Muslim-majority nations, giving those affected more time to reach wherever they want to be.
President Donald Trump, who had railed against the stay ordered by a federal court in Seattle, Washington, on Friday and disparaged the “so-called” judge responsible for it, is yet to react to the new setback as of now.
But he did open another front with critics, across party lines, by defending Russian president Vladimir Putin in an interview to be telecast on Sunday. To an observation from the interviewer that Putin was a “killer”, Trump said, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
Critics, especially conservatives who have been historically more hawkish on Russia, were aghast. “Trump puts US on moral par with Putin's Russia. Never in history has a President slandered his country like this,” wrote Bret Stevens, a columnist with The Wall Street Journal, on Twitter.
But Trump seemed to not care much about this, focussed as he seemed to be, as displayed in his Twitter posts, on his executive order barring visa-holders from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya from entering the US for 90 days, and all refugees for 120 days — indefinitely for those from Syria.
He said, in a tweet, the order was intended to protect Americans from “bad dudes”, a theme he has continued to press since, but in less colourful language. “The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!” Trump wrote on Twitter about the Seattle court order.
The justice department filed a motion against that ruling in an appeals court — similar to high courts in India — arguing the lower court had sought to “second-guess” the president’s overarching powers and judgment on national security issues.
Trump seemed confident the government’s petition would be upheld, and the Seattle court order will be struck down. “We’ll win,” he told reporters of the presidential pool, which travels with him — he was at his Miami resort for the weekend —replied. “For the safety of our country, we’ll win.”
The appeals court didn’t agree. It will hear from the Washington state attorney general, whose lawsuit had led to the temporary stay granted by the Seattle court, later on Sunday, and then again from the justice department on Monday.
Until then, visa holders from the seven Muslim-majority will continue to arrive in the US. In fact, they are being advised to make the most of this window of opportunity that could close anytime. “If you are attempting to travel to the US on a valid visa, you should attempt to get on a plane as soon as possible,” the Urban Justice Center, a New York non-profit, has said in an advisory to travellers.