Six absurd things that came out of the White House today

What is going on in there?
What is going on in there?
Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria
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Update Jan. 31, 12:10am EST: Later on Jan. 30, the White House fired the US’s acting attorney general and a White House appointee abruptly removed the top immigration enforcement from his job.

Just ten days into Donald Trump’s presidency, even US Republican politicians have started to criticize the administration’s rapid-fire issuance of executive orders, hasty planning and lack of interaction with experts and administrators inside the US government.

In keeping with Trump’s no-compromise style, the White House does not appear to be accepting any constructive advice. Instead, Trump has plowed ahead with executive orders and doubled down on nasty comments about critics. His spokespeople blame the media, and White House spokesman Sean Spicer’s defense has grown heated as questions about Trump’s policies multiply.

Today, the atmosphere at the White House press room was confrontational, with Spicer at one point holding up props: two stacks of paper that he said showed National Security Council (NSC) structure for the last two presidents. He loudly insisted that they were “verbatim, identical,” to Trump’s NSC plan. But they are not—and that was just one of the puzzling developments at the White House on Jan. 30.

Here’s the full list:

1. Sean Spicer’s props didn’t show what he said they showed.

As NPR’s Domenico Montanaro points out, there are big differences between the George W. Bush 2001 NSC and Trump’s, namely that Bush didn’t allow a “chief strategist” in meetings.

Bush 01, Trump 17 NSCs are not “literally 100% the same”/”identical.” No “chief strategist” in any of these three principals committees pic.twitter.com/twoPXo5JsZ

— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) January 30, 2017

2. Dissenting civil servants were told to leave.

Referring to State Department employees who signed a draft formal protest opposing Trump’s Jan. 27 ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, Spicer said they should “either get with the program or they can go.”

3. A five-year-old was described as a credible terror threat.

Asked about reports that a five-year old Iranian child had been separated from his mother and detained in an airport for hours due to the ban, Spicer responded: “To assume that just because of someone’s age or gender or whatever that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.”

4. Nationals from Muslim-majority countries were confused with white nationalists.

The deadly shooting in a Quebec mosque on Sunday (Jan. 29) justified the Trump administration’s stance on immigration, Spicer said. “We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant, and why the president is taking steps to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to our nation’s safety and security,” he said.

But the sole suspect in custody for the Quebec shooting is Alexandre Bissonette, a white man identified by Canadian media as an anti-immigrant “far-right troll.” Bissonette was a fan of Trump’s on Facebook.

5. Spicer doubled down on a Holocaust insult.

President Trump went “out of his way” to recognize the Holocaust’s victims in a statement on Jan. 27, Spicer said. But Trump’s statement did not include a single mention of the Jewish people. Today, Spicer argued that it was “pathetic” to harp on the details.

6. An illegitimate executive order was passed.

Trump’s latest executive order bans federal government agencies from issuing a new regulation without eliminating two existing ones. Such an order is “not a legitimate use of presidential authority,” a policy-making expert told Quartz. Federal agencies are empowered with making regulations through statutes passed by Congress.