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Trump Blasts Judge Who Temporarily Blocked Refugee Travel Ban


Around the world, refugees and people with visas to enter the United States are scrambling to get here while President Trump's travel ban is on hold. How long it will be on hold is impossible to say. The legal battle over the ban is now in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals here in California. And the president is expressing his displeasure with that on Twitter.

Let's chat now with NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Good morning, Tam.


GREEN: So as of now, as of this morning, what is the status of the president's immigration order?

KEITH: It's on hold. The State Department and Department of Homeland Security have lifted the ban, at least temporarily. So students and doctors and others from those seven Muslim-majority countries rushed to get back into the U.S. to resume their lives. And refugee agencies are putting people on planes as fast as they can to get them into the U.S. And of course, there's an urgency because the lifting of the ban could very well be temporary - measured in hours or days rather than weeks - depending on what happens in court.

GREEN: OK, so how long this would last depends on what happens in courts - a lot of confusion, back and forth in the courts over the weekend - what exactly happened?

KEITH: So a federal judge in Washington state, James Robart, issued a temporary restraining order from the bench late Friday. That put the ban on hold nationwide until its legality could be argued. This stems from a case - Washington state and Minnesota state had sued to stop the ban, saying that it would hurt their economies. The Justice Department then filed an appeal late Saturday. But the appeals court - the 9th Circuit, which is known to be liberal - declined the administration's request to immediately put the ban back into effect.

The 9th Circuit asked for briefs. The states filed theirs overnight, saying that putting the ban back in place would cause chaos, just as they say it did when the ban was initially signed. They also submitted a declaration from 10 big-name national security figures who mostly served in Democratic administrations saying, quote, "as a national security measure, the order is unnecessary." There's a 3 p.m. Pacific time deadline today for the government - the Justice Department to submit its brief, which makes it seem like the justices in the 9th Circuit are planning to move on the question of this temporary restraining order very quickly.

GREEN: Wow. OK - but legal limbo, I mean, I've never heard a...


GREEN: ...Moment when those words are more apt. And the president, of course, goes on Twitter and doesn't hold back at all.

KEITH: That's correct. He tweeted nine times about the ban over the weekend, calling the judge a so-called judge. And here's just one tweet I want to read for you. He says, quote, "just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens, blame him and the court system. People pouring in - bad - exclamation point." Of course, he is referencing the separation of powers there.

And we just have to point out that these refugees that are coming in are heavily vetted, including fingerprinting, DNA analysis, all kinds of vetting.

GREEN: OK, NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Tam, thanks.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.