On Tuesday morning, the White House Office of the Press Secretary sent out an “in case you missed it” press release highlighting a McClatchy report about President Trump’s Muslim ban. But while the release included most of the McClatchy report verbatim, all sections critical of the president’s executive order or its implementation were deleted.
The first seven paragraphs of the story — authored by Anita Kumar and entitled, “Trump is not the first president to ban foreigners. So why is this time different?” — are copied-and-pasted in the email, which was later posted on the White House website as a press release. They provide background about how previous presidents have relied on the same federal law Trump cited in his executive order “to keep certain groups of foreigners out of the United States.”
After those paragraphs, ellipses indicate a section of the report wasn’t included. What was omitted? Four paragraphs about why Trump’s Muslim ban is likely to be ruled unconstitutional.
A flurry of lawsuits was immediately filed after Trump’s order on behalf of immigrants detained or barred from entering the United States. U.S. District Judge James Robart, a Republican appointee, temporarily blocked the order from taking effect on a nationwide basis Friday following a half-dozen rulings by other federal judges that had backed more limited challenges. Such a temporary stay is granted generally only if a judge believes that side will prevail on the merits of the case, according to legal experts.
They say that while Trump’s executive order may rely on the same law as his predecessors’, it differs from theirs in two important ways.
First, it’s much broader, banning all people from multiple countries, including those whose status had already been determined. Second, the order could be deemed unconstitutional because it discriminates against people based on their religion; the order calls for special consideration for followers of minority religions from the affected countries, a certain reference to Christians.
The difference with Trump’s order, said Erin Corcoran, an immigration law professor at the University of New Hampshire Law School, is that usually presidents cite more specific, immediate national threats than Trump’s order did and target those who may come to the United States in the future, not those who already have legal status or are en route.
None of the above is included in the release, which omits three other chunks of the McClatchy report: a few paragraphs about how Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to enforce the executive order because she thought it discriminated against Muslims; a paragraph about how Trump said he won’t back down in the face of legal challenges, but “has already reversed course and agreed to allow permanent legal residents into the country and dual nationals of the seven countries who are traveling with passports of countries not named in the order”; and two concluding paragraphs about how litigation is likely to at least narrow the scope of the order.
Trump’s war on critical coverage
Since the election, Trump has been engaged in an ongoing quest to delegitimize any outlet that covers him critically as “fake news” while using social media to link to content from staunchly pro-Trump sites like One America News and LifeZette.
That effort has intensified since Trump was inaugurated. During his first appearance before the press as President Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer angrily attacked the media for accurately reporting that Trump’s inauguration was attended by a relatively small crowd. That tirade came hours after Trump gave a bizarre speech to the CIA that included him saying, “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest humans being on earth.”
During his first interview as president, Trump was confronted by ABC News’ David Muir about his baseless claim that up to five million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election. Trump responded by saying that what matters to him is whether his “very smart” Fox News-watching supporters agree with him.
“Let me just tell you, you know what’s important, millions of people agree with me when I say that if you would’ve looked on one of the other networks and all of the people that were calling in they’re saying, ‘We agree with Mr. Trump. We agree.’ They’re very smart people,” Trump said.