With President Trump’s Muslim ban back in court on Monday, the White House is being questioned about Trump’s past comments about designing a legal ban against Muslims, which judges have pointed to as evidence of the ban’s discriminatory intent.
Minutes later, an incriminating page from the Trump campaign website conspicuously disappeared.
During Monday’s briefing, ABC’s Cecilia Vega asked Spicer why the Trump campaign website still called for “preventing Muslim immigration” and “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
“We’ve talked about this from the first day of this administration as a ‘travel ban,’” Spicer responded, adding, “We’ve been very consistent since the first day of this administration on this.”
Back in January, shortly after the first iteration of the Muslim ban was implemented and swiftly blocked by the courts, Spicer said the exact opposite. Asked about Trump’s own tweets calling it a “ban,” he repeatedly insisted that the executive order was not a ban. “If 325,000 people from another country can come in, that is by nature not a ban… that is extreme vetting,” he said at the time, suggesting the media was to blame for sowing confusion and that Trump was simply borrowing the media’s language.
Nonetheless, Vega’s questions seemed to strike a chord with the administration. Mere minutes after her inquiry, the statement disappeared from the campaign website altogether.
Minutes after we asked the WH why the President's campaign website still called for a Muslim ban, it appears the statement was deleted. pic.twitter.com/1VzefJuoQF
— Cecilia Vega (@CeciliaVega) May 8, 2017
The Wayback Machine’s archive of the site confirms that the statement was still live as of Monday morning, but the page is empty now. Indeed, all of the campaign’s press releases and announcements seem to have been freshly scrubbed.
News of this conspicuous disappearance did not reach the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which was simultaneously hearing oral arguments in one of the challenges against the Muslim ban. According to livetweets from the courtroom, Judge Robert B. King actually said of Trump’s call for a Muslim ban, “It is still on his website!”
Court: Trump has never repudiated what he said about Muslim Ban. It is STILL on his website!
— Jackie Vimo (@JackieVimo) May 8, 2017
King may technically have been incorrect, but by no more than an hour or two. Moreover, though the statement was scrubbed, the URL wasn’t. The page may be blank, but it’s not a dead link; the address slug still contains the text “preventing-muslim-immigration.” Meaningless URLs containing gobbledygook do not similarly go to blank pages, but oddly redirect to a page containing a paper about health care reform.
Even as the administration may be trying to hide from its past statements calling for an outright ban on Muslim immigration, King’s other statement remains true: Trump has never retracted his own remarks.