Pence defends Trump's attack on judge, predicts victory for travel ban

Vice President Pence defended President Trump's criticism of a federal judge who ruled against a travel ban from seven Muslim countries, and predicted that a higher court would eventually uphold the measure in the name of national security.

"We're going to win this argument,' Pence said on Fox News Sunday, one in a series of Sunday show interviews.

Pence told  ABC's This Week that Trump was "speaking his mind" when he denounced a "so-called" judge — U.S. District Judge James Robart, based in Seattle — for ruling against the travel ban.

Early Sunday, a federal appeals court rejected a request by Trump's Justice Department to immediately restore the travel ban; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit based in San Francisco said a reply from the Trump administration is due on Monday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also speaking on Fox, said Trump exceeded his authority with the order and people are well within their rights to challenge it in court, probably to the highest in the land.

"I have no doubt it will go to the Supreme Court," Feinstein said.

Trump criticized Robart in a series of tweets, incuding this one: "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"

Critics condemned Trump's criticism of the judge, and some Democratic senators said it should be an issue during confirmation hearings for the president's new Supreme Court nominee, appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump's attack on Robart "shows a disdain for the independent judiciary" that will be explored during hearings, and Gorsuch's "ability to be an independent check will be front and center throughout the confirmation process.”

The Senate's top Republican — Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — also questioned Trump's tweet criticizing the judge, telling CNN's State of the Union: "I think it's best not to single out judges for criticism."

Pence said he, and Trump, simply disagreed with the Seattle judge on the ban, which he said is designed to block entry from countries "that have been compromised by terror." He said presidents have the right to block entry out of concern about terrorism.

"We believe the judge made the wrong decision," Pence said.

USA TODAY


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