US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Sunday defended his dismissal of a Hawaii federal judge who blocked President Donald Trump’s travel ban, suggesting that he was joking when he referred to Hawaii as an “island in the Pacific.”
“Nobody has a sense of humor anymore,” Sessions said in an interview on “This Week.”
The attorney general argued that the plaintiffs in the suit – the state of Hawaii and a Hawaiian imam – purposefully chose a venue they believed would be sympathetic, a common legal practice.
“The president has to deal with the Department of Defense, the national intelligence agencies, CIA. He knows the threats to this country. He is responsible for protecting America,” Sessions said.
He continued: “This order is lawful. It’s within his authority constitutionally and explicit statutory authority. We’re going to defend that order all the way up. And so you do have a situation in which one judge out of 700 in America has stopped this order. I think it’s a mistake. And we’re going to battle in the courts and I think we’ll eventually win.”
The comments came days after the attorney general in an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin slammed Judge Derrick Watson’s ruling.
“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions said to Levin.
Sessions said the ruling unfairly psychoanalyzed the president’s motives by weighing the president’s past statements about the intention of the ban. The Trump administration argued that the ban did not unfairly discriminate against Muslims, while the plaintiffs pointed out that the president and his top advisers had previously called for a Muslim-focused travel ban.
Top Hawaii Democrats including Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono condemned Sessions for his dismissal of Hawaii earlier this week.
Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect. https://t.co/sW9z3vqBqG
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 20, 2017