Republican leaders vehemently condemned the suggestion from the billionaire upstart who was then leading in the GOP primary race. “Offensive and unconstitutional,” were the words of Mike Pence—before he joined Trump’s ticket as his vice president. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said it was “not conservatism.” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell called it “completely inconsistent” with American values. Even former vice president Dick Cheney said it “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
Yesterday, Trump made a first step toward fulfilling his campaign promise when he signed an executive order temporarily banning visitors from the Muslim-majority countries Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, and barred refugees from Syria indefinitely.
Legal scholars have called the order unconstitutional because it appears to specifically target Muslims, and because Trump has said the system would prioritize Christians from the countries named. Civil rights groups have filed initial legal challenges to the order. And protests are gathering at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where two Iraqi refugees were detained, including one who had served as an interpreter for the US.
Still, since Trump signed yesterday’s executive order, no major Republican leader has yet spoken out against Trump’s order.
Below are some of the statements from Republican leaders made prior to yesterday’s executive action:
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle. It’s a founding principle of this country… This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.” – Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
“[A Muslim ban is] completely and totally inconsistent with American values” – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
“Well, I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. I mean, religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from.” – Former US vice president Dick Cheney
“You do not need to be banning Muslims from the country. That’s, in my view, that’s a ridiculous position and one that won’t even be productive.” – New Jersey governor Chris Christie
“We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values.” – White House chief of staff Reince Priebus