As a point of law, Mattis has no authority himself under Trump’s order to grant visas. That falls to DHS and the State Department under section 3(g), although it would be … weird if any of the Pentagon’s recommendations for exemptions from the travel ban were to be turned down.
Mattis reportedly wasn’t consulted while the order was being drafted, which may help explain his (alleged) annoyance at it. Two thumbs up for the crack Trump political team in cutting the single most respected member of their natsec team out of the policymaking process. I wonder how many more Bannon-style power plays like that it’ll take before Mattis decides he has better things to do with the rest of his life than serve as a front man for actions on which he has no input.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, blindsided by President Trump’s travel ban that includes U.S. allies in Iraq, is submitting to the White House a list of Iraqis who have helped the U.S. military so they can be considered for exemptions to the temporary immigration freeze affecting seven majority-Muslim countries.
Some officials say Mattis was stung by the blistering criticism leveled by former military commanders and lawmakers who said the blanket ban risked the lives of Iraqi interpreters and others who have supported the U.S. military at great personal risk…
One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mattis was displeased with how the ban was implemented, and with the lack of consultation with the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.
If it cheers him up any, the first snap poll after the order was issued shows majority support for the key principles in the order:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters favor a temporary ban on refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen until the federal government approves its ability to screen out potential terrorists from coming here. Thirty-three percent (33%) are opposed, while 10% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Similarly, 56% favor a temporary block on visas prohibiting residents of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States until the government approves its ability to screen for likely terrorists. Thirty-two percent (32%) oppose this temporary ban, and 11% are undecided.
If not for the initial cock-up barring green-card holders, which has now been remedied by an order from John Kelly, the left would have had less ammo to try to turn this into a galvanizing outrage. I think the temporary ban on refugees is unfortunate since they’re already closely screened and the U.S. accepts far, far fewer than Europe does, but the numbers don’t lie. The public is okay with excluding them, at least temporarily, on the principle of “better safe than sorry.” It’ll be an interesting test of strength between Trump and the media, which are in saturation mode trying to turn the public against Trump’s action (replete with disinformation about it being a “Muslim ban,” etc), to see if the polling starts to turn negative on his order in the coming days.
Here’s Seth Moulton, an Iraq veteran turned Democratic congressman who knows Mattis, who claims that there’s “no way in hell” he would support the order.