Gorka: Travel pause is about "threat assessment," not religion

Later today, the Trump administration will file briefs at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal to vacate a temporary restraining order imposed by federal Judge James Robart against Donald Trump’s immigration EO. New deputy assistant Seb Gorka starts off this segment with CNN New Day host Chris Cuomo with a succinct explanation as to why the White House expects that effort to be successful, given the president’s plenary authority on external security.

When it comes to motivations, though, the White House’s attorneys had better be as prepared as Gorka was to handle the questions Cuomo poses. Given the president’s previous rhetoric on a “Muslim ban,” Cuomo repeatedly pressed, how can the courts uphold the policies within the EO? Simple, Gorka explains — it’s about “threat assessment,” not religion:

There is an “unringing the bell” sense to this, because as Cuomo says, he’s not making the “Muslim ban” up. Trump floated that idea during the campaign, but later shifted to a state-by-state policy after considerable criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Robart certainly had that in mind when he issued the TRO, and even though the executive branch’s jurisdiction on entry requests is nearly complete, those words could come back to bite Trump in the 9th Circuit especially, but perhaps even at the Supreme Court.

However, Gorka provides a rather effective rebuttal to the arguments. It’s not about religion, Gorka says, “it’s about people being mowed down in Nice.” Gorka notes that most majority-Muslim nations are not impacted by the EO, and those that are have specific threats related to ISIS, al-Qaeda, or their offshoots. ISIS has bragged repeatedly that they are infiltrating the “refugee streams,” and have succeeded at least once in Europe in staging a terrorist attack. “This isn’t hyperbole, Chris,” Gorka says. “It has happened in Europe, and we don’t want it to happen here.”

The question will be whether that argument can overcome the rhetoric that preceded what should be considered a rather sensible and temporary pause to improve the vetting system before admitting refugees. The 9th Circuit refused to put an immediate stay on the TRO to allow the Trump administration to implement the EO, but did put a deadline on briefs for this afternoon. We might get some indication about whether they plan to stick with the established lines of jurisdiction or push them back by later today, but it’s likely to be tomorrow or later this week before anything changes, if it does at all.

Update: Mistyped James Robart’s name as “James Robert” in the first paragraph; now fixed, and my apologies for the error.