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George Conway, who is married a top adviser to the president, tweeted that President Donald Trump’s tweets about his administration’s travel ban hurts his case in court.
Following Saturday’s terror attacks in London, Trump contradicted the arguments of Justice Department lawyers defending the controversial executive order in court while he was pushing for the travel ban’s implementation.
“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” Trump tweeted, later adding that “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.”
“The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court – & seek much tougher version!” he continued in a subsequent tweet.
After Trump’s travel ban was blocked by lower courts, the Justice Department appealed last week to the Supreme Court to review the legality of the order.
Conway, whose wife is Kellyanne, Trump’s former campaign manager and current counselor, first tweeted that Trump’s tweets “may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help” the Solicitor General’s office get a majority decision in the Supreme Court, “which is what actually matters.”
“Sad,” he added.
The lawyer then launched into a tweetstorm explaining his views and clarifying that he “VERY, VERY STRONGLY” supports Trump, his administration, policies, the executive order itself, “and of course, my wonderful wife.”
“Which is why I said what I said this morning,” he wrote. “Every sensible lawyer in [the White House Counsel’s office] and every political appointee at DOJ [would] agree with me (as some have already told me). The [point] cannot be stressed enough that tweets on legal matters seriously undermine Admin agenda and POTUS – and those who support him, as I do, need to reinforce that [point] and not be shy about it.”
Conway’s comments came just hours after his wife said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” that the news media has an “obsession with covering everything” Trump “says on Twitter and very little what he does as president.”
Trump’s ban, which bars citizens from Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Libya who do not currently have visas from entering the country for 90 days while the administration reviews its visa policies and bars all refugee entry for 120 days, is currently being blocked by federal courts. In upholding a nationwide block on the order, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the executive order “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”
The Trump administration had withdrawn its initial travel ban, which did not make clear that existing visa holders could enter the country and also included Iraq on the list of banned countries, after it too was blocked by the courts.
Trump’s tweets could cause him additional headaches in court, as the Justice Department has tried to distance itself from the original order in defending the new one. Trump has already seen his past statements, and those of his surrogates, used against him in court, particularly his calling for a Muslim ban in December of 2015.
The Justice Department lawyers defending the order have repeatedly called for Trump’s statements not to be considered when ruling on its legality, instead asking the judges to focus on the text of the document. But that strategy has not proven effective yet, as judges have taken Trump’s statements into consideration.
Additionally, the lawyers have tried to create distance between the first executive order and the one that replaced it, which Trump’s claim of the second being a “watered down” version of the first won’t help.
“In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe,” Trump tweeted. “The courts are slow and political!”
But Conway’s concerns echoed the sentiment of many on Monday, who seemed to agree that the tweets, which are almost certain to be brought up in future litigation, could do nothing but hurt the Department of Justice’s efforts.
Neal Katyal, the former acting solicitor general who is arguing against the ban in court, tweeted a screenshot of Trump’s Monday morning tweets, commenting that it’s “kinda odd to have the defendant in Hawaii v. Trump acting as our co-counsel.”
He added: “We don’t need the help but will take it!”