National Review contributing editor Andrew McCarthy defended the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations, saying that it was “rooted in Congress’ own law,” during an interview Monday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, criticized the mainstream media and the liberal protesters who took to the streets over the weekend to defame Trump as “anti-Muslim” by imposing a “Muslim ban” on immigrants and refugees. Noting that the seven countries Trump included in the ban were first identified by former President Barack Obama in a 2015 statute, McCarthy said that Trump had acted “lawfully.”
“A large part of the reason that we have President Trump is that most Americans … understand that we have a profound threat from radical Islam — that it’s not all Muslims, but it’s not an insignificant number of Muslims.”
“So this is a temporary step, but it’s supposed to be a temporary measure that heightens our security,” McCarthy told LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham. “What Trump has been doing is rooting his executive orders in provisions of statutory law so that no one can say he’s usurping Congress’ power. He’s acting lawfully.”
McCarthy, who led terrorism prosecution and cases against the defendants in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing cases, pointed out that the 9/11 Commission ultimately found that “completely ineffective immigration controls” largely led to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
“Across the board, immigration was — if not the main problem — it was close to the main problem,” McCarthy said. “The president has the authority to keep out any alien or class of aliens that he thinks their admission would be detrimental to the United States.”
For those protesters and politicians who decry any attempts for the president to apply any sort of “religious test” to potential refugees, McCarthy said that “there’s nothing in the Constitution that prevents the president from reacting to any threat against the United States.”
“First of all, a religious test is written into the refugee law. What makes you a refugee is the fear, the legitimate fear, of persecution,” McCarthy said. “And as we know throughout history and as our law explicitly recognizes, religion is a common cause of persecution. So, written right into the statute is the fact that you have to evaluate the claim by people that they are likely to suffer religious persecution. It’s written right into our law. So, to say that you can’t have a religious test is preposterous.”
Expressing his frustration with media and politicians who conflated Trump’s executive order as an unconstitutional “Muslim ban,” McCarthy ridiculed them for assuming the American people were so gullible as to believe them without question.
“The worst part of it, the cherry on top, is that I think a lot of the media does know what the truth is, that they obfuscate it,” McCarthy said. “I mean, there’s perfectly smart, well-informed people in the media who know a lot of the stuff that they’re spouting is fire-alarm nonsense. It’s their job to clarify it, but they’re playing for the other team. So that’s what we’re dealing with.”
“A large part of the reason that we have President Trump is that most Americans, especially those outside the D.C. and New York corridor and the West Coast, most Americans understand that we have a profound threat from radical Islam — that it’s not all Muslims, but it’s not an insignificant number of Muslims, and that we have to work to separate our enemies from our friends,” McCarthy said. “They understand that this was never going to look pretty or perfect, and they get the religious implications of it, but at the same time they are going to gravitate toward people who are trying to improve American national security and clearly doing it within what the law allows.”
Saying that Trump’s initial executive order will remain temporary until official measures can be taken and policies formed, McCarthy expressed his faith in the American people’s discernment.
“They know that we’re not at war with all Muslims, but at the same time they also understand that we are in a civilizational struggle and a war with jihadists and the people who backed them, which are Sharia supremacists who, by definition, are Muslims,” McCarthy said. “We have to have a way to get at them and keep them out of our country without overly antagonizing our friends in the Islamic community. And it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but we ought to be able to walk and chew gum at this point.”