Asked on Tuesday about President Donald Trump's attacks on the "so-called judge" who blocked his immigration executive order nationwide, House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the President.Despite the insults, Trump was respecting the appeals process, Ryan said at his weekly press conference.
After Donald Trump's Muslim ban was put on hold by the courts, the president threw a bit of an online tantrum, lashing out at the "so-called judge" -- a Bush/Cheney appointee -- who stopped the implementation of the controversial policy.This highly unusual attack on the judiciary struck many as alarming, but as TPM reports, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) believes we have nothing to worry about. Trump, the Republican leader insisted, "respects" the process.
"Look, I know he's an unconventional president," Ryan told reporters. "He gets frustrated with judges, we get frustrated with judges. But he's respecting the process, and that's what counts at the end of the day." The House Speaker also emphasized that the Trump administration "is honoring the ruling."That's not necessarily the sort of thing a politician feels the need to highlight. The alternative is a White House that ignores court rulings and acts outside the rule of law.But I was struck by Ryan's assertion that Trump is "respecting the process." Isn't the evidence to the contrary overwhelming?The president didn't just respond to legal setbacks by defending his policy and allowing the legal process to unfold; Trump instead attacked the integrity of the judge who issued a ruling he didn't like. He then expanded his scope, targeting the judicial branch as some kind threat to national security: "What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.? ... Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system."Note the specificity of Trump's language. This wasn't just a president who was disappointed by a judicial setback; this was a leader encouraging Americans to blame the "court system" in the event of hypothetical terrorist violence.If Paul Ryan sees this as evidence of a president who's "respecting the process," he and I may have different definitions of "respect."Postscript: Just this morning, the president added, "If the U.S. does not win this case as it so obviously should, we can never have the security and safety to which we are entitled. Politics!" Substantively, this is bonkers -- Trump's Muslim ban has no practical effect on making Americans safer, and if the executive order were really so necessary, the White House wouldn't have bungled this so badly -- but it was another reminder that the president is wholly unimpressed with the "process."