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Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance Picked To Be Trump's Running Mate

White House Immigration Order Remains Waylaid In The Courts


It's another week, which potentially means another executive order from President Trump. Now that the administration's initial order on immigration has been waylaid in the courts, the White House is said to be mulling over other options. All this comes as President Trump has directly attacked judges in this case. Earlier, I spoke with Sebastian Gorka. He is a deputy assistant to the president.


MARTIN: Welcome back to the program.

SEBASTIAN GORKA: Thank you for having me back.

MARTIN: President Trump and other members of the administration have repeatedly said the courts have no ability to review this matter. Yesterday, Stephen Miller said - and I'm quoting here - "the judiciary is not supreme."

What does that mean?

GORKA: Well, it means that we have separation of powers in the United States. And it seems as if certain judges deny that and think they have the ultimate authority when it comes to national security. So you don't have to read anything more into statements like that.

And the fact is the judiciary, or specific judges, are making gross mistakes. Just last year in 2016, a Senate subcommittee said there have been 72 - 72 people from the seven countries listed on that executive order who have been convicted of terrorist offenses in the United States since Sept. 11. So when a judge or when anybody says these seven countries pose no threat to America, they're just flatly wrong. And that's the problem.

MARTIN: Let's take a moment to examine that claim. Mr. Gorka is referring here to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, which is a group that advocates for less immigration to the U.S. The Washington Post has fact-checked this report, and they found that while some of the 72 people on the list were convicted of providing material support to terrorists, it also included people who were convicted of passport or visa fraud, not terrorism-related offenses. They found that it earned a, quote, "three-Pinocchios" rating out of a possible four, which means the Post found there to be significant factual errors in that claim.

So now let's get back to the rest of the conversation with Sebastian Gorka. And I asked him about President Trump's specific attacks on judges.


MARTIN: You know, even the president's pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has said that Trump's attacks on the judges in this particular case were, quote, "disheartening and demoralizing." Do you think there's a problem with the president undercutting the judiciary, as he has?

GORKA: No because I don't think that story was completely accurate, nor do I think the president is undercutting anybody. If you look at the rights the president has as the chief executive, as the commander in chief, they are explicit and they are watertight. The law from the 1950s, the law from the 1980s and even the most recent law says it is solely the prerogative of the president to decide under which standards individuals of a foreign nationality come into the United States and to adjust the requirements by which they are allowed in. So that's not debatable...

MARTIN: We don't need to get into the merits of the case now, but it's really more specific...

GORKA: You are. But you're getting into the merits.

MARTIN: Well, it's specific to how President Trump has talked about individual judges. And I think what Justice Gorsuch - what Judge Gorsuch was talking about was the way that the administration has been going after individual judges, calling them so-called judges and undermining their authority. That's what he was referring to.

GORKA: Well, judges are human beings. I mean, they can make mistakes. And when you look at the 9th Circuit, their rulings have been reversed 82 percent of the time. So the idea that they're infallible is just fallacious.

MARTIN: And we should take a moment to clarify that statement. It's not that 82 percent of the cases heard by the 9th Circuit get overturned. According to PolitiFact, roughly 8 out of 10 cases that eventually make it up to the Supreme Court get overturned. My conversation with Sebastian Gorka also touched on the controversy around national security adviser Michael Flynn.


MARTIN: While I have you, I want to ask you about another issue, Retired General Michael Flynn, the national security adviser. The Washington Post has reported that he talked with Russia's ambassador about U.S. sanctions, that this conversation, perhaps more than one, happened before the Trump administration took office in January. We've got a cut - a clip of tape from House Democrat Adam Schiff. This is what he told us on the program today.


ADAM SCHIFF: If those allegations are true, it's staggering and he ought to be, if not fired, should be given a chance to step down. But this has to be investigated. I think the consequences are just enormous.

MARTIN: Did General Flynn lie to the administration about these conversations?

GORKA: Again, this is really, you know, spin beyond spin. I've worked with General Flynn. I was part of his national security transition team between the election and the inauguration. He is a man of honor, a soldier's soldier, a person who's served the republic and the cloth of the republic. So these kinds of accusations aren't just - are simply not of merit (unintelligible).

MARTIN: So did he not broach sanctions with the Russian ambassador then?

GORKA: I wasn't part of the conversation, so I have no idea.

MARTIN: Vice President Mike Pence went out and defended him. There is some confusion in the White House as to what is accurate at this point, whether or not General Flynn - who now says he can't recall - if he broke sanctions or not. But Vice President Pence defended him. Is that a good thing to have the vice president defending something that's now being called into question?

GORKA: Another man of honor defending a man of honor - yes, it's an excellent thing.

MARTIN: Does the president still have the full confidence of General Flynn to serve as national security adviser?

GORKA: I am not his spokesman, and I don't speak for the president. I'm a deputy assistant on national security issues and the strategic initiatives groups. So really, that's a questions for the president.

MARTIN: Sebastian Gorka is the deputy assistant to President Donald Trump.

Thank you for your time.

GORKA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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