Updated 11:38 AM ET, Thu March 16, 2017
President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a rally at Municipal Auditorium Wednesday, March 15, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn.
(Photo: George Walker IV / The Tennessean)
(CNN) Two federal judges have temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s travel ban, both citing Trump’s statements about Muslims during the presidential campaign as part of their rulings.
WASHINGTON — Rarely do a presidential candidate’s own words so definitively haunt his presidency.
For the second time in two months, two federal judges on Wednesday refused to allow President Trump to impose a travel ban, citing his campaign rhetoric as evidence of an improper desire to prevent Muslims from entering the United States.
The judges’ stunning rebukes were a vivid example of how Mr. Trump’s angry, often xenophobic rallying cries during the campaign — which were so effective in helping to get him elected — have become legal and political liabilities now that he is in the Oval Office.
It is a lesson that presidents usually learn quickly: Difficult and controversial issues can easily be painted as black-and-white during a long campaign, but they are often more complicated for those who are in a position to govern.
That is especially true for Mr. Trump’s bellicose remarks about immigrants, which animated his upstart presidential campaign but now threaten to get in the way of his broader agenda for a health care overhaul, tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
It all seemed so simple before.
Five days after terrorists in California killed 14 people in December 2015, Mr. Trump whipped up his supporters at a rally by vowing to impose a complete ban on entry by Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
The crowd roared its approval.
Later in the campaign, Mr. Trump backed away from calling for a total Muslim ban. But a judge in Hawaii who ruled on Wednesday appears to have concluded that Mr. Trump’s true motivations could be found by looking at his earlier remarks.
“These plainly worded statements,” wrote Judge Derrick K. Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu, “betray the executive order’s stated secular purpose.”
Hours later, a second judge in Maryland also ruled against the core portions of the new travel ban, also citing Mr. Trump’s promise as a candidate to enact a ban on entry into the United States by Muslims.
Tags: citing Trump's statements about Muslims during the presidential campaign, executive order, Hawaii, immigration for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, Judge Derrick K. Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu, Maryland, Trump's travel ban, Trump’s bellicose remarks about immigrants, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson