CLAIM: President Donald Trump’s travel ban was a “Muslim ban” and was unconstitutional.
VERDICT: False. The travel ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, who moderated the second evening of the Democrat National Convention (DNC), claimed that President Trump’s travel ban was unconstitutional She introduced former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, whom she said “refused to defend an unconstitutional travel ban and paid for it with her job.”
Yates herself then described it as a “shameful and unlawful Muslim travel ban.”
In reality, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in Trump v. Hawaii that the president has extraordinarily broad discretion under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f) to exclude aliens when he believes doing so is in the nation’s interests.
Breitbart News reported at the time:
President Trump’s policy is permitted by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, because Presidential Proclamation 9645 provides a religion-neutral explanation for the policy that is facially legitimate, rejecting plaintiffs’ arguments that the policy advanced an impermissible religious purpose.
Democrats argue that the Court simply upheld the third version of the ban — not the first, to which Yates objected. But that claim does not hold water. The original version of the ban was not a “Muslim ban,” either.
Breitbart News noted recently:
What Democrats called a “Muslim ban” was an executive order issued on January 27, 2017, that barred tourism and immigration from seven countries previously identified by the Obama-Biden administration as being particularly vulnerable to terrorism, partly because their internal record-keeping was substandard. These seven nations — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen — happened to be Muslim-majority countries, but there was no blanket ban on Muslims from other Middle Eastern countries or large Muslim countries like Indonesia.
Later, the executive order was updated, or superseded, by subsequent orders. A second version dropped Iraq from the list; a third version added North Korea and Venezuela, two countries without substantial Muslim populations whatsoever. The Supreme Court tossed legal challenges to the travel ban in October 2017. Several more countries — including non-Muslim ones — were added in January 2020. The “Muslim ban” exists only in the minds of Democrats and left-wing journalists.
In December 2015, then-candidate Trump did suggest “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He made that suggestion after radical Islamic terrorists launched brutal terror attacks in Paris, France, that November — with at least one hiding among Syrian refugees.
Trump later dropped that idea. But it is important to note that even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) considered a “pause” in Syrian refugees, given the security vulnerabilities and the possibility that fighters from the so-called “Islamic State” might infiltrate into the country.
In Senate testimony in May 2017, Yates admitted that she had been motivated partly by “policy” considerations, which were not hers to make, and that she based her view of the ban not on the executive order but Trump’s previous statements. She even admitted that she had overruled the Office of Legal Counsel, which had confirmed the order’s constitutionality.
Yates was simply wrong about the Constitution and the law. She was a political actor seeking to create controversy; she could have resigned in protest, but instead forced the administration to fire her to create a sense of being victimized.
Notably, Yates was present at the Jan. 5, 2017 meeting at which then-President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden discussed the investigation of Michael Flynn, and Biden allegedly brought up the possibility of using the obscure Logan Act to pursue Flynn and thereby undermine the incoming Trump administration with “Russia collusion” claims.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.