Still regrouping from a federal appeals court’s refusal to reinstate President Trump’s controversial ban of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries, White House lawyers are working on a rewrite of his executive order that could pass legal muster, NBC News has learned.
The work began several days before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shot down the White House’s bid to lift a temporary restraining order on Trump’s plan to bar nationals from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, a senior administration official told NBC.
Trump’s legal team still believes it will be eventually proven correct on the merits of the current executive order, the official said. And they are looking into several options, including continuing the court battle as well as signing a new immigration EO "very soon."
Several sources close to President Trump told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough that White House lawyers and working on language for the executive order that would be able to find favor with the federal courts.
A senior administration official told NBC News on Friday afternoon that the White House does not plan to take the temporary restraining order on the president’s immigration order to the Supreme Court. Instead, the official said, they are focused on defending the order on its merits, making it likely that the next legal showdown will be in a federal district court.
Trump took to Twitter to voice his outrage Thursday minutes after the three-judge panel decided unanimously not to reinstate the ban.
"It’s a political decision and we’re going to see them in court," Trump told reporters.
The judges also dismissed Justice Department arguments that presidential decisions about immigration policy related to national security are not subject to legal review.
"There is no precedent to support his claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy," the judges wrote.
The ruling came in response to a ruling by a lower-court judge in Seattle who issued a temporary restraining order last Friday that blocked Trump’s so-called "travel ban."
The DOJ argued that Trump had the authority to issue the order and that U.S. District Judge James Robart’s restraining order was overly broad and a danger to the public.
The three judges on the panel disagreed.
After Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order went into effect there was near immediate chaos at airports as green card holders, students and professors from the targeted countries were detained and barred from entering the country. Critics accused Trump of engineering an unconstitutional "Muslim ban."
Trump insisted it wasn’t.
"This is not about religion," he said. "This is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order."
But Trump’s argument was undercut by trusted adviser Rudy Giuliani who told Fox News Saturday Night that the president had talked to him about imposing a "Muslim ban" and asked his advice on "the right way to do it legally."
Not one of the Al Qaeda terrorists who launched the 9/11 attacks was from any of the seven countries.