Donald Trump faces a big obstacle in rolling out his travel ban: his own tweeting.
The US president’s attempt to ban travelers from six majority-Muslim countries, which was supposed to go into effect today (Oct. 18), has been blocked by federal district courts in Hawaii and Maryland.
It was the third iteration of the travel restrictions Trump vowed to implement. Administration lawyers have painstakingly argued in court that his goal is to enhance national security, not impose discrimination. However, their boss keeps undermining them with his freewheeling Twitter style.
Despite federal assertions that “the travel ban was arrived at through the routine operations of the government bureaucracy, the public was witness to a different genealogy, one in which the president…announced his intention to go back to and get even tougher” than in his two previous tries, said judge Theodore Chuang of the district of Maryland, in an opinion filed late yesterday. He included a detailed history of Trump’s statements on Twitter to back his statement.
Back in June, a few days after an appeals court upheld a stay of the second version of the ban, Trump took to Twitter.
He didn’t stop even after another appeals court shot down the ban using presidential tweets to poke holes in the administration’s arguments. On Aug. 17, for example, Trump suggested that Muslims should be shot with bullets dipped in pig’s blood—a method he falsely attributed to general John Pershing using in the early-20th century US fight against insurgents in the Philippines—to combat terrorism.
And a month later, he said this:
“This court is obligated to pay attention to such statements,” wrote Chuang. And in his reading, the tweets suggest that Trump has not given up the idea of a Muslim ban, which he first floated as a presidential candidate.
Is that assessment likely to tame Trump’s tweeter feed? The presidential account has been mum on the travel ban since the Hawaii and Maryland court decisions.