White House Tamps Down ‘Muslim Ban’ Hysteria

Spicer: 'Protecting this nation and our people is the No. 1 priority of this president'

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 29 Jan 2017 at 11:50 AM

Senior White House officials blasted the media for distorting President Trump’s executive order temporarily denying entry to people from seven terrorism-compromised countries during interviews Sunday.

The refugee pause, designed to force a revaluation of screening procedures, has been attacked by activists, liberal politicians, and the press as “anti-immigrant” and constituting a “Muslim ban” that unconstitutionally discriminates against a particular religion.

“President Trump is not willing to get this wrong, which is why he wants to move forward quickly and protect Americans.”

Several White House officials noted  Trump’s 90-day entry ban affecting people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya does not affect travelers from 46 other Muslim-majority nations.

“These seven countries — what about the 46 majority Muslim countries that are not included? Right there, it totally undercuts this nonsense that this is a Muslim ban,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is a ban on prospective travel from countries, trying to prevent terrorists in this country, from countries that have a recent history of training and exporting and harboring terrorists.”

When ABC News host Martha Raddatz asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer what “message” Trump was trying to send with his executive order, Spicer reaffirmed Conway’s focus on national security.

“What it sends is that we are going to protect our country and our people. There are 46 other countries with Muslim populations that are not part of this, and I think that’s an important thing to note,” Spicer said on “This Week.”

Spicer pointed out the seven countries listed in the executive order were actually identified by the Obama administration and Congress as especially dangerous countries requiring “further travel scrutiny” and vetting.

“There’s 46 Muslim majority countries that are not in this seven. These seven countries were identified by the Obama administration needing further travel scrutiny,” Spicer said. “What the president did was take the first step through this executive order of ensuring that we’re looking at the entire system of who’s coming in, refugees that are coming in, people who are coming in from places that have a history or that our intelligence suggests that we need to have further extreme vetting for.”

“Protecting this nation and our people is the number one priority of this president and our government,” Spicer added. “And that’s the point … to make sure that we put the safety of our nation first and foremost. And that we put a plan together during that period to put those extreme vetting measures in place.”

When NBC News’ “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd pointed out that countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt were not included in the executive order — despite the number of terrorists that originated from those countries and carried out attacks in the U.S. — White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated that more countries could be added to the ban in the future. And when Todd confronted Priebus over the confusion that ensued over the weekend while U.S. airports struggled to detain travelers who were now banned, Priebus insisted that Trump acted swiftly so early on in his presidency to fulfill his campaign promises to protect American citizens.

"Perhaps other countries needed to be added to an executive order going forward," Priebus told Todd. "But in order to do this in a way that was expeditious and a way that would pass muster quickly, we used the seven countries that have already been codified and identified by both the Obama administration and the Congress. But, you bring up a good point, and perhaps other countries need to be added."

Despite the mass hysteria and confusion generated by the media and activists around the orders, the three White House officials made it clear that the president was acting on behalf of the American people.

"But this is all done for the protection of Americans. And waiting another three days and waiting another three weeks is something that we don't want to get wrong," Priebus told Todd. "President Trump is not willing to get this wrong, which is why he wants to move forward quickly and protect Americans."

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