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People Are Mad That Trump Slammed The Judge Who Blocked His Travel Ban

"I've never seen a president attack a sitting judge this way."

Originally posted on
Updated on

President Donald Trump on Saturday slammed a federal judge — nominated by former President George W. Bush and approved 99–0 by the Senate — for blocking his immigration ban.

The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!

In his tweet, Trump questioned the legitimacy of US District Court Judge James Robart, who issued a nationwide order in Washington state on Friday, halting enforcement of parts of the immigration ban Trump signed late last month.

"The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Trump said in his tweet.

And he didn't stop there. Trump questioned the authority of the federal judge to halt the executive order and claimed "many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country."

What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?

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Why aren't the lawyers looking at and using the Federal Court decision in Boston, which is at conflict with ridiculous lift ban decision?

Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision

The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!

Reactions from Trump's political opponents were swift. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said the president's attack on the judge showed a "lack of respect for the Constitution."

POTUS's attack on Judge Robart shows a disdain for an ind. judiciary that doesn't bend to his wishes & lack of respect for the Constitution.

In a statement, Schumer said, “With each action testing the Constitution, and each personal attack on a judge, President Trump raises the bar even higher for Judge Gorsuch's nomination to serve on the Supreme Court. His ability to be an independent check will be front and center throughout the confirmation process.”

Former CIA officer Evan McMullin — who ran against Trump as an independent in last year's election — said undermining the legitimacy of a judge "is a threat to the Republic."

Disagreeing with a court decision is fine, but undermining the legitimacy of a judge and the Judiciary Branch is a… https://t.co/Uf8hLBW86r

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Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, said, "No one is above the law — not even the President."

“No one is above the law — not even the President.” –BF

Sen. Bernie Sanders then quoted Ferguson in his rebuke of the president.

Trump has to learn the very important truth stated by Washington AG Bob Ferguson: "No one is above the law, not eve… https://t.co/XvSnHY2N9g

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence defended the president's comments, saying Trump was "speaking his mind."

ABC News/"This Week." / Via abcnews.go.com

Pence defended the comments in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on This Week, hours after the tweets were published.

Stephanopoulous asked Pence whether Trump's questioning of the federal judge undermined the separation of powers of the government.

“Is it right for the president to say ‘so-called’ judge’?" Stephanopoulous asked. "Doesn’t that undermine the separation of powers in the Constitution?”

"I don't think it does," Pence replied. "I think the American people are very accustomed to this president speaking his mind and speaking very straight with them."

The vice president also defended the travel ban, saying that it temporarily suspended immigration from seven countries "compromised by terrorism," and that the White House would be "using all legal means at our disposal to challenge the judge's order."

Criticism of the comments continued to pour in, however, including from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who warned Trump his defiance of the judiciary might not end well for him.

We've seen a president try to defy the judiciary before. His name was Richard Nixon. It didn't end well for him.

Neal Katyal, who served as acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, said that he had "never seen a president attack a sitting judge this way."

"So-called judge"? As the former top courtroom lawyer for the federal govt,I've never seen a president attack a sit… https://t.co/iFfNo8XHCc

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said, "Trump may not like it, but our courts’ authority is real."

"Judge Robart’s decision underscores how rash and destructive President Trump’s executive order has been. The Court found no support for the President’s claim that banning refugees and legal immigrants from certain Muslim countries makes Americans safer. Indeed it has not. If anything, this half-baked effort has given the likes of ISIS its opening line in its sales pitch to recruits, undermining the image of America as a welcoming and pluralistic country and reinforcing ISIS’s narrative of the western world’s war on Islam. And contrary to the President’s musings on Twitter, the Bush appointee who issued this order is very much a judge. President Trump may not like it, but our courts’ authority is real and he should learn to respect it.”

New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, warned Trump, "We are watching closely your contempt for our Judicial Branch."

No "so-called." Judge Robart is a GWB appointee who was confirmed 99-0. We are watching closely your contempt for… https://t.co/OjxMoOeoJK

California Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, asked the president to read the "'so-called' Constitution."

This "so-called" judge was nominated by a "so-called" President & was confirmed by the "so-called" Senate. Read the… https://t.co/hnQ1gSSQVq

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Trump's attempt "to bully and disparage" a federal judge "embarrassing" and "dangerous."

His full statement read:

The President’s hostility toward the rule of law is not just embarrassing, it is dangerous. He seems intent on precipitating a constitutional crisis. He fired the nation’s top law enforcement official for recognizing that his so-called “travel ban” was indefensible. It is in fact an arbitrary and shameful attempt to discriminate against Muslims. Last year, he made baseless accusations and attacked a federal judge because of his ethnic heritage. And now he is attempting to bully and disparage yet another federal judge — this one appointed by a Republican President and confirmed by a Republican Senate — for having the audacity to do his job and apply the rule of the law.

We need an Attorney General, like Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, willing to lose his or her job to do the right thing. And we need a nominee for the Supreme Court willing to demonstrate he or she will not cower to an overreaching executive. This makes it even more important that Judge Gorsuch, and every other judge this president may nominate, demonstrates the ability to be an independent check and balance on an administration that shamefully and harmfully seems to reject the very concept.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their responses.

Sen. Al Franken's spokesperson initially responded, saying, "I think we will have to sit this one out but will let you know if we have anything later."

On Sunday, though, Franken's spokesperson sent this comment: "Sen. Franken believes this is a perfect example of why it's imperative we have an independent judiciary."

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Many others on social media referred to Trump as a "so-called president"...

If Trump can call Robart a "so-called" judge, can we call him -- with infinitely better justification -- a "so-called" president?

...including Hillary Clinton's former press secretary...

If anything, given popular vote, role of outside forces & historically low approval, Trump's a "so called" President https://t.co/7xFR2eDb7V

...and actor George Takei.

The tweets of this so-called president are ridiculous and will be overused. https://t.co/LdNUobEXxs

"Imagine if a federal judge called Trump the 'so-called president?'" wrote Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker.

Imagine if a federal judge called Trump the "so-called president"?

Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor, had a similar take.

I'm trying to imagine how people would react if a Judge Robart had called Trump "this so-called president."

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Liberal political commentator Sally Kohn called Trump's tweet "incredibly worrisome and dangerous."

"so-called" -- President of the United States challenging the authority/credibility of federal judge. Incredibly wo… https://t.co/u5fQoSTxU8

Others recalled when Trump said a judge's Mexican heritage would mean he couldn't be impartial.

I remember a simpler time when Trump only dismissed a judge's opinion because the judge's parents were Mexican. https://t.co/qpQUXjgW3P

Some people, including CNN's Jake Tapper, noted that there was difference between a president criticizing a court's decision and dismissing the authority of a judge to make it.

Huge difference between criticizing a court's decision & dismissing the authority of a "so-called judge" to make it. https://t.co/E5zn9ifgn5

Plenty of federal judges handed down decisions challenging actions by Presidents Obama/Bush -- they never personally attacked the judges.

But journalist Jonah Goldberg dismissed it, writing, "This is not a crisis. It's a tweet."

If you read my tweets, you'll see I think Trump shouldn't have attacked the judge. But I also think this is not a crisis. It's a tweet.

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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