Trump Gets Boost In Legal Fight Over Refugee Order

REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent

In an affidavit filed Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says he played no role in the drafting of President Donald Trump’s executive orders on refugee and migrant entry.

The concession may deal a blow to the coalition of states and advocacy groups battling the order in court.

Giuliani, an informal Trump advisor and prominent campaign surrogate, claimed he played a significant role in formulating the executive orders over the course of the transition. 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.'”

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.

Now, Giuliani says no such memo exists, and that he did not participate in drafting the executive orders.

“Neither I nor my firm has represented the Trump administration,” he wrote in his affidavit. “In particular, I have not served on any Trump administration commission ‘relating to the so-called Muslim ban executive orders.'”

“For clarity, I have not participated in writing any of the executive orders on that subject issued by the Trump administration,” he added. The statement leaves room for the possibility that Giuliani advised the administration on the refugee orders, but did not play a role in drafting them.

Federal courts around the country have found that Giuliani’s statements, as well as Trump’s campaign rhetoric, indicate an intent to discriminate against Muslims, and have blocked the order’s implementation on that basis. Though some legal commentators have accused these judges of engaging in “judicial psychoanalysis,” the memo — had it existed — could have corroborated the conclusions several courts have reached.

Giuliani’s concessions dramatically reduce the potency of his January remarks, and deprive refugee order critics of a powerful weapon with which to bludgeon the administration. Though Trump has made other remarks critics characterize as disparaging to Islam, Giuliani’s January interview was one of the most oft-cited examples of discriminatory intent in the legal battle over the order.

Challenges to the refugee order are currently pending before the 4th and 9th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. Rulings are expected in the coming days.

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