President Donald Trump’s travel-ban defense could be affected by his retweet of anti-Muslim videos, only weeks before challenges to the directive are to be heard by two federal courts.
According to attorney Sirine Shebaya, this will most likely be used by Iranian Alliances Across Borders, a group which is suing President Trump over the travel ban. Peter Spiro, a professor of immigration law, said other plaintiffs as well will use the retweets to prove that the third version of the travel ban has a religious motivation and is influenced by animosity toward Muslims.
“President Trump is just about the worst client one could have as a lawyer. He just doesn’t get it, in terms of how these kinds of public statements can come back to bite the administration in court,” Spiro said.
The two challenges to the ban, filed by groups representing Muslims, are to be heard on December 6 by the federal appeals court in San Francisco and on December 8 by the appeals court in Richmond. Both lawsuits claim the third version of the ban is unconstitutional in that it only applies to one religion and is in violation of federal immigration law.
“The tweets reinforce and illustrate our point that the president’s actions are motivated by anti-Muslim animus. They are therefore highly relevant to the Muslim-ban cases,” Shebaya said.
In response to Trump’s retweets, a spokesman for Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a tweet of his own that “President Trump’s decision to retweet white nationalist anti-Muslim tweets just goes to show he meant it when he said he wanted to ban all Muslims from the country,” adding it was un-American.
Trump’s campaign promises to stop Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. were used by plaintiffs to obtain injunctions to previous versions of the travel ban. White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said the issuing of the travel ban was used by the president to address the issue of Muslims possibly posing a threat to the United States.
“It’s never the wrong time to talk about security and public safety for the American people,” he said.
Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer at the conservative Heritage Foundation refuted the implication that the president’s retweets of the videos will undermine the ban’s defense and the government’s analysis of which countries should be included in it.
“The order goes into great detail of the thorough and extensive process the Department of Homeland Security engaged in to review the credibility and trustworthiness of the information we receive. Tweets showing the heinous acts of some individuals is not going to change that,” he said.