The day after the White House launched its initial Muslim ban, Donald Trump, just a week into his presidency, told reporters, “We were totally prepared. It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over.”
As we discussed at the time, no sane person could believe this. Almost immediately after the order was announced, there was chaos throughout the system – most notably “at the airports” – with officials completely unaware how to implement a policy they knew very little about. Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department were in the dark, in part because no one at these agencies had been consulted or even notified in advance.
And yet, a senior administration official told reporters two days after the policy was announced, “It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level.”
Politico reports today on new findings that made clear Trump World wasn’t telling the truth.
The Department of Homeland Security’s official watchdog is accusing his own agency of slow-walking the public release of a report about confusion that ensued earlier this year after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban executive order.
The still-unreleased inspector general report found that senior managers at Customs and Border Protection were “caught by surprise” by Trump’s order and that agency officials “violated two court orders” limiting implementation of Trump’s directive to suspend travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, according to a letter sent to lawmakers Monday and obtained by POLITICO.
The letter from Inspector General John Roth told lawmakers, among other things, that while Customs and Border Patrol officials were “compliant at U.S. ports of entry with travelers who had already arrived, CBP was very aggressive in preventing affected travelers from boarding aircraft bound for the United States, and took actions that, in our view, violated two separate court orders that enjoined them from this activity.”
The full, 87-page report would presumably shed additional light on the subject, but the Politico report added that the findings were sent to the Department of Homeland Security’s leadership six weeks ago, though those officials have not yet cleared the report for release.
Instead, Roth summarized portions of his report in a seven-page letter to lawmakers.
The inspector general’s investigation was precipitated by an appeal from Illinois’ Democratic senators – Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth – who issued a press statement last night critical of the administration’s fiasco.
“We know that CBP officers have a difficult job – but when the President failed to provide even the most basic guidance or warning regarding his discriminatory and unconstitutional Muslim Ban, he clearly didn’t make it any easier,” Duckworth and Durbin wrote. “It’s disappointing that the DHS Inspector General found that CBP violated two separate federal court orders during the chaotic implementation of this ill-conceived Executive Order, but it is frankly unacceptable that the Trump Administration now appears to be hiding that information not just from Congress, but from the public as well.”
Let’s note for context that the Department of Homeland Security, during the tumult earlier this year, was led by retired Gen. John Kelly. He’s since been promoted to serve as Donald Trump’s chief of staff.