Trump’s UK Terrorism Tweetstorm Will Backfire On Him

Donald Trump

After the terrorist events in the UK over the weekend, Donald Trump began one of his infamous tweet storms decrying political correctness and muddying the legal waters surrounding his ever-changing stance on banning Muslims from entering the country. Because his social media posts were previously cited in courts as official stances on his policy, these tweets may ultimately end all question on the constitutionality of his unpopular Muslim ban executive orders.

In chronological order, here are the most important tweets:


“Our” Rights

Of note, Donald Trump took special care to argue courts need to return “our” rights. Who is this “our” he is referring to, and what rights were taken away that need to be restored? The next sentence in that same tweet answers both of those questions.

Donald Trump’s administration is the “our” and his ability to target and ban persons based on their religious identity is the “right” he’s seeking to reinstate. “We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” he said. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

It’s pertinent that he’s making these remarks in the context of the London attacks as well since – at least at the time he sent the tweets – he had no way of knowing the religious identity or ethnic make-up of the perpetrators. He used the attack as an opportunity to push his Muslim ban agenda while rolling the dice and hoping the attack would be the result of ISIS radicalization.

The opportunism demonstrates firsthand the fear many have in what would happen if and when a similar terrorist attack happened on U.S. soil.

But that propagandizing doesn’t solve the largest problems with Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban.

The Ban Wouldn’t Work

The most obvious point that’s been repeatedly made since the signing of the first Trump Muslim ban is the fact that it (and its “watered down” successor) would not have prevented any of the terrorist events Trump has used to promote the ban. It wouldn’t have prevented 9/11. It wouldn’t have prevented the Pulse Orlando massacre. It wouldn’t have prevented the San Bernardino shooting.

In fact, of the 12 terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil since 9/11, Trump’s Muslim ban wouldn’t have stopped a single killer from entering the country.

And that’s exactly what it is, too – a ban.

Despite the Trump administration’s ardent efforts to walk back Trump’s initial description of his order as a travel ban, he definitively called it a ban so as to put an end to any confusion. And he called it a ban IN CAPS, no less, to ensure its effect was well received.

More curious than his decision to once again contradict his own legal advisers is Trump’s decision to place blame for his second executive order on the Justice Department.

Watered Down

In the wake of the federal court injunction against his first Muslim ban, Donald Trump infamously proclaimed, “SEE YOU IN COURT” on Twitter. The humor of that tweet aside, it was Trump – not the Justice Department – that made the decision to move ahead with a second executive order.

Commenting on this, Vox noted:

By Monday morning, he’d thrown himself into a full-blown rage — and his anger wasn’t just directed at the judges that have put the ban on hold, but at his own Department of Justice lawyers, who revised the ban to pass constitutional muster in March. Trump signed the new ban, but he now appears to see it as an unforgivable act of weakness — a “watered-down, PC” version of what Trump really wanted to do on immigration.

They added:

Shortly after the first executive order was put on hold, Trump promised that his administration would work on a new one. Three of his Cabinet secretaries gave a press conference rolling it out on March 6. And it’s only in effect now because President Trump himself, presumably, put his pen to the text.

But the minute the second executive order ran up against legal trouble, Trump started distancing himself from it.

First he said in Nashville that “I wasn’t thrilled, but the lawyers all said, oh, let’s tailor it. This is a watered down version of the first one. This is a watered down version. And let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”

Now he appears to be washing his hands entirely — blaming it on his own Justice Department, rather than, say, the person who signed both of them.

The lawyers worked at his behest to write a version of the ban that would pass constitutional muster, and he signed that revision into law via a second executive order. Since he views the second EO as “weak” and “watered down,” he now blames everyone but himself for its ultimate failure despite being the person who ultimately gave it the final thumbs up.

It’s this indictment of his own policy that will ultimately come back to haunt Donald Trump.

Politically Correct

Trump’s Twitter proclamation that it’s time to “stop being politically correct” is pertinent in the context of his tweet storm as it lays bare the truth of his previous attempts to push the ban through the courts. He sent out surrogates to repeatedly deny the nature of the executive orders, but in the face of defeat dropped all pretense this weekend as he admitted that was all in the name of being politically correct.

Now that he’s openly admitting the impetus of the executive orders, he will inevitably have a more difficult time in court.

Vox noted:

As it happens, though, one of the key legal questions in the lawsuits against the travel ban is when Trump’s statements can be examined in court to discern the intent behind a policy. And while there’s some disagreement about whether it’s kosher to look at statements Trump made back in 2015 as a presidential candidate, or statements made by his allies outside the administration, the courts so far have been pretty clear that the way President Trump describes his policies now is a pretty good indication of what he wanted to do by signing them.

One court, in fact, has already found that describing this executive order as a “watered-down” version of the first one counts as evidence that what Trump really wanted to do was ban Muslims from the US.

The decision Vox referenced is the decision handed down by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which used statements Trump made at his Nashville rally):

These statements suggest that like [the first executive order], [the second executive order’s] purpose is to effectuate the promised Muslim ban, and that its changes from [the first executive order] reflect an effort to help it survive judicial scrutiny, rather than to avoid targeting Muslims for exclusion from the United States.

What Trump views as ‘political correctness‘ and a court system he labels “slow and political” is really the steady and ongoing operation of the federal government. He’s used to being able to – as the leader of a private company – say something and having that command carried out without question.

But that’s not how the federal government operates. The backbone of the Constitution directly contradicts that sort of unfettered power through its system of checks and balances. It’s those checks and balances that Trump resents and at times outright detests.

And it’s those checks and balances that stand between a power-hungry, authoritarian-loving administration and the lives of countless Muslims.

UPDATE [June 6, 2017 @ 9 AM ET]

Last evening Trump sent out yet another tweet pertinent to the tweets published above. It once again solidifies that his executive orders were indeed bans, not temporary travel restrictions. He said:

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Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he's worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.

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