President Donald Trump had no coherent answer Wednesday when he was asked by reporters why Sudan was removed from the most recent version of his administration’s travel ban.
The new travel ban, unveiled late Sunday evening, bans indefinitely nearly all immigration from seven countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as government officials and their families from Venezuela.
An earlier version of the ban suspended immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen for 90 days, and Iraq was later removed from that list. The newest version of the travel ban does not include Sudan, and on Wednesday, a reporter asked why.
“First of all, can you explain to us why Sudan was removed?” a reporter asked Trump. “And second of all, how does the travel ban work in North Korea that doesn’t allow their people out of their country?”
“Well, the people — yeah, the people allowed — certain countries — but we can add countries very easily and we can take countries away,” Trump said.
The reporter asked Trump what Sudan did to have themselves removed from the ban, and Trump again responded incoherently.
“And as far as the travel ban is concerned,” he said, “whatever it is, I want the toughest travel ban you can have. So I’ll see you in Indiana. We’re going to go over some more points that have not been talked about.”
And that was that.
Another perplexing move is the inclusion of Chad in the new version of the travel ban. Experts and citizens in Chad alike are reportedly confused, and the administration has not offered any explanation for its inclusion.
“That list is not fixed,” Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said Monday of the newest executive order. “On Chad, there was a real debate.”
The administration unveiled the new travel ban Sunday, as the earlier version was facing a number of lawsuits, most of which centered around the fact that the executive order was seen as functionally the Muslim ban Trump campaigned on. All of the countries included in the first iterations of the ban were Muslim-majority.
Some have speculated that the inclusion of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela is an effort to make the ban seem less targeted while still achieving the same goal, something New York Times reporters discussed on the paper’s podcast “The Daily” this week. Sudan’s removal from the list may be a similar move.