How did Donald Trump enact his Muslim ban so fast? With some secret helpers from the House Judiciary Committee’s staff.
On Saturday, Donald Trump’s Muslim ban caused chaos in airports across the country. The executive order blocking people from seven Muslim-majority nations dropped with so little warning, some were already in mid-air.
We still don’t know the exact number of travelers who got detained and/or sent back. But Reuters reports the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) gave out the following numbers:
- 375 people in transit were affected by the Donald trump’s Muslim ban.
- 109 of those in transit were denied entry to the U.S..
- 173 more got turned away by airlines staff before boarding their plane.
Among those who got blindsided by Donald Trump’s Muslim ban were top Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). POLITICO reports they received no warning about the Muslim ban.
GOP leaders received no advance warning or briefings from the White House or Judiciary staff on what the executive order would do or how it would be implemented — briefings they still had not received as of Sunday night. Leaders including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) only saw the final language when reporters received it Friday night, according to multiple Hill sources.
One senior GOP source fumed:
“Their coordination with the Hill was terrible. We didn’t see the final language until it was actually out.”
Another source declared:
“No one was given a heads-up and no one had a chance to weigh in on it.”
But how in the world did the president’s short-handed Oval Office draft Donald Trump’s Muslim ban so quickly? It turns out they had some secret helpers from staffers at the House Judiciary Committee. That’s right. A tight-knit, secretive group led by White House policy director Stephen Miller and Trump’s senior strategist Stephen Bannon stole several senior staffers from House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)’s office…and didn’t even bother to tell him.
Oh, and these staffers are staying mum because the White House had them sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)…which Donald Trump is notorious for in his business dealings.
But wait…it’s not even legal for a sitting U.S. president to make his own staffers sign an NDA, let alone someone else’s staffers. It might not even be legal for him to work directly with House aides, because it may violate separation of powers as required by the U.S. Constitution.
Even Rep. Bob Goodlatte admits he was not “consulted by the administration” on Donald Trump’s Muslim ban…Though he did express pride in his staff and said he supports the executive order, according to Talking Points Memo.
— Bob Goodlatte (@RepGoodlatte) January 31, 2017
But there are some indications that Bob Goodlatte knew and looked the other way. His staffers have advised Donald Trump’s transition team and administration in the past. Goodlatte even once said his aides are “on loan” for the White House’s Tuesday morning meetings.
Meanwhile, Paul Ryan tried to play this off as totally normal in a recent press conference.
“Congressional staffers help the administration all the time. I’ll refer you to the Judiciary Committee on the specific aspects of this.”
But POLITICO points out “it’s extremely rare” for the White House to bypass House and Senate leaders from its own party while working directly with House staffers.
Newt Gingrich made some lame excuses about Donald Trump’s White House being understaffed and inexperienced.
“They could have waited a couple days, and they would have done better…I think some of this stuff is they’re learning how to roller skate. They can’t understand in advance, they have to do it for the first time.”
But of course, House Democrats are furious, as another post from POLITICO reports. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) denounced the House staffers’ involvement as “unacceptable.”
“We are an independent [body]; we’re not an arm of the administration. And hopefully Speaker [Paul] Ryan and Senate [Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell will not simply be an arm of the administration, an irresponsible, dangerous administration to boot,”
Meanwhile, senior Republicans and DHS officials are still fuming over “trying to clean up their damage,” being “kept totally out of the loop,”and “getting tired of all the chaos.”
Featured image: House Speaker Paul Ryan via Facebook.