Trump’s Revised Travel Ban Also Comes With A Revised Rollout

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Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump not only reworded the temporary travel ban he signed Monday, but the whole rollout of the ban was done drastically different than it was a month ago.

Trump himself didn’t lead the rollout of the travel ban Monday. This effort was instead lead by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The last time Trump rolled out an executive order temporarily barring immigration from several Muslim-majority nations, and refugee entry from all countries, he did not have his attorney general or secretary of state confirmed by the Senate.

In fact, days after Trump rolled out his travel ban in late January then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates sent a letter to the Justice Department saying the agency shouldn’t defend the order. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful,” Yates wrote.

Trump promptly fired her and said she is an “Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders.”

On Monday, Attorney General Sessions took quite a different stance from Yates. “Like every nation, the United States has the right to control who enters our country, and to keep out those who would do us harm. This executive order protects the American people – as well as lawful permanent residents – by putting in place an enhanced screening and vetting process for visitors from six nations,” Sessions said in a statement.

“The Department of Justice believes that this executive order, just as the first, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority,” he added.

Also last time Trump rolled out his travel ban, it was widely reported that DHS Secretary Kelly was unaware of it. The New York Times reported that Kelly was on a plane and found out Trump signed the order through cable news. Kelly, however, would later deny this.

The DHS secretary left no doubt at the press conference with Sessions and Tillerson that he was aware of the new order.

“The Executive Order signed today by President Trump will make America safer, and address long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system. We must undertake a rigorous review of our visa and refugee vetting programs to increase our confidence in the entry decisions we make for visitors and immigrants to the United States,” Kelly said. “The Department of Homeland Security has worked closely with the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and the White House to create an executive order that addresses our information concerns while protecting the homeland and our citizens.”

With Tillerson not in office when the last order was rolled out, a large amount of diplomats not under his leadership circulated a memo expressing disapproval of the travel ban. The secretary of state, however, came out in favor of the order Monday saying that it protects the US from terrorism. “The State Department will coordinate with other federal agencies and implement these temporary restrictions in an orderly manner,” Tillerson added.

This push from the cabinet secretaries to support the order could help President Trump in a legal challenge, according to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. “This will be much more associated with cabinet members rather than the president announcing it, and that is all helpful in the atmospherics of the legal case,” Toobin said.