Trump Vows Quick Action to Stop Terrorism After Setback in Court

by admin February 11, 2017 at 12:33 am
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President Trump arrived on Friday at Palm Beach International Airport on his way to Mar-a-Lago.

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Al Drago/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed on Friday to order new security measures intended to stop terrorists from entering the United States by next week, even as aides debated whether to ask the Supreme Court to reinstate his original travel ban that has now been blocked by lower courts.

A day after a three-judge panel rebuffed him, Mr. Trump said he might sign “a brand new order” as early as Monday that would be aimed at accomplishing the same purpose but, presumably, with a stronger legal basis. While he vowed to keep fighting for the original order in court, he indicated that he would not wait for the process to play out to take action.

“We will win that battle,” he told reporters on Air Force One as he flew to Florida for a golf outing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. “The unfortunate part is that it takes time statutorily, but we will win that battle. We also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.” Asked if he would do that, he said, “We need speed for reasons of security, so it very well could be.”

Asked to describe what he had in mind for the order, he said, “We’re going to have very, very strong vetting. I call it extreme vetting; and we’re going very strong on security. We are going to have people coming to our country that want to be here for good reason.”

White House officials tried to tamp down news reports that the president would not immediately appeal to the Supreme Court. “All options remain on the table,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said by email late Friday.

Speaking at a news conference at the White House earlier in the day, Mr. Trump said he would continue to fight for his order in court and predicted, “Ultimately, I have no doubt we will win that particular case.”

Mr. Trump did not specify what new security measures he had in mind, but said he was committed to “extreme vetting” of refugees and other visitors. He said his new actions would stop people “who are looking to do harm to our country” from entering the United States.

“We’ll be doing something very rapidly having to do with the additional security for our country,” Mr. Trump said, standing beside Mr. Abe. “You’ll be seeing that sometime next week.”

But he avoided the incendiary language he had been using in recent days as his policy was held up in the courts.

He initially called a federal district judge in Seattle who first blocked his executive order a “so-called judge” and said Americans should blame the judge if there were a terrorist attack. When the appeals court took up the case, he said a “bad high school student” would uphold the order. After the appeals court ruled against him, he called it “disgraceful.”

The unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected the administration’s assertion that the president’s order was beyond judicial review. The judges noted that the administration had not provided any concrete evidence that the country would be in danger if the order were temporarily blocked.

The administration can appeal the decision to the full Ninth Circuit or go directly to the Supreme Court, which has had a vacant seat for a year and is ideologically split on many issues. A 4-to-4 tie by the justices would leave the Ninth Circuit ruling in place and the ban suspended pending a fuller judicial consideration of its constitutional and legal merits.

The executive order at the heart of the president’s court fight banned refugees from entering the United States for 120 days and from Syria indefinitely. It also cut off visitors for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Mr. Trump argued that the restrictions were necessary to stop terrorists from entering the United States, citing attacks in Europe over the last year. As the United States has struggled with terrorism in the years since Sept. 11, 2001, no one has been killed in a terrorist attack on American soil by anyone from one of those seven countries, although some would-be attackers from them have been thwarted.

At the news conference, Mr. Trump suggested that he had learned more about the threat of terrorism from intelligence briefings since becoming president.

“While I’ve been president, which is just for a very short period of time, I’ve learned tremendous things that you could only learn, frankly, if you were in a certain position, namely president,” he said. “And there are tremendous threats to our country. We will not allow that to happen. I can tell you that right now. We will not allow that to happen.”

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