A federal judge in Michigan Friday ordered the Trump administration to release a memo written by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, which allegedly establishes a strategy for lawfully banning the entry of Muslims into the U.S.
The Arab American Civil Rights League and the ACLU brought a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s second executive order on refugee and migrant entry. The groups hope to show that the order’s purpose is to discriminate against Muslims and defame Islam in violation of the First Amendment’s ban on establishing religion.
Giuliani, an informal Trump advisor and prominent campaign surrogate, may have played a significant role in formulating the executive order whose legality has been challenged in courts across the country. During a Fox News interview in January, the former mayor claimed that Trump had asked him to produce a memo describing a strategy for lawfully enacting a “Muslim ban.”
“So when [Trump] first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,'” Giuliani told host Jeanine Pirro. “He called me up. He said ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.'”
“We believe these documents will show exactly how the Muslim ban that Donald Trump called for on the campaign trail turned into the executive order he issued a week after taking office,” ACLU senior staff attorney Miriam Aukerman said in a statement. “If the administration now still refuses to turn over these papers, the question will be: What is it trying to hide?”
The administration may refuse to surrender the memo if it believes it is subject to executive privilege, a legal concept which allows the president to disregard court orders if they require the production of documents whose publication would jeopardize national security or core presidential interests.
District Judge Victoria Roberts of the Eastern District of Michigan ordered the administration to produce Giuliani’s memo and all documents and communications relevant to the order exchanged between Giuliani, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, White House strategist Steve Bannon, and Trump aide Stephen Miller.
Federal courts around the country have found that Giuliani’s statements, as well as Trump’s campaign rhetoric, evince an intent to discriminate against Muslims. Though some legal commentators have accused these judges of engaging in “judicial psychoanalysis,” the memo may corroborate the conclusions several courts have reached.
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