WASHINGTON: Fresh from a legal setback to his travel ban, US President Donald Trump expressed confidence on Friday that his order would be upheld by the courts, and promised to introduce additional national security steps next week.
Trump's executive order banning entry to the United States by refugees and by citizens of seven Muslim-majority was put on hold by a federal judge in Seattle last week, and that suspension was upheld by an appeals court in San Francisco on Thursday.
The White House is not ruling out the possibility of rewriting Trump's Jan 27 order in light of the court actions, an administration official said.
Applying the brakes
Trump's order, which he has called a national security measure to head off attacks by militants, barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days, except refugees from Syria, who are banned indefinitely.
"We are going to do whatever's necessary to keep our country safe," Trump said during a White House news conference with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Republican president did not answer directly when he was asked whether he would sign a new travel ban. "We'll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country. You'll be seeing that sometime next week," Trump added.
He did not make clear whether he was talking about a redrafted travel ban directive or some other initiative. The president, who has made extensive use of executive action that bypasses Congress since taking office on Jan 20, said his administration would also continue to go through the court process.
In setback for Trump, judges reject travel ban
"And ultimately I have no doubt that we'll win that particular case," he added, referring to Thursday's ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The administration could appeal the 9th Circuit ruling to the US Supreme Court as early as Friday.
It also could ask the 9th Circuit to rehear its appeal with a larger panel of judges. While Trump's comments alongside Abe were measured, earlier in the day he used Twitter to condemn the 9th Circuit ruling as "disgraceful," his latest expression of frustration with the week-old court-mandated suspension.
NBC News reported that White House lawyers were working on a rewrite of Trump's executive order that could win federal court approval.
"The administration is looking through all the options on how to move forward. But we'd like to win the case in court," the administration official told Reuters.
Thursday's ruling related only to the decision by US District Judge James Robart in Seattle to suspend the order, and did not resolve the underlying lawsuit against the ban brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota.
Those states have argued the ban violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination. The administration has also been defending Trump's ban in more than a dozen additional lawsuits now moving through the US court system.