Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York, has said President Donald Trump wanted a “Muslim ban” and instructed him to put together a commission to show him “the right way to do it legally”.
In an interview with Fox News, Mr Giuliani, currently the White House cyber security advisor, said the commission focused on “danger” imposed by the countries implicated in the executive order, not religion, which he called “perfectly legal, perfectly sensible”.
Mr Trump signed an executive order on Friday night that stopped America’s entire refugee programme for 120 days and banned refugees from Syria indefinitely. The "travel ban" has suspended the entry of travellers to the US from seven Muslim majority countries; Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, for 90 days.
On Sunday, following a weekend of protests and condemnation from lawyers across the US, Mr Trump he issued a statement that denied the action amounted to a “Muslim ban”.
“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order,” Mr Trump said in the statement.
He claimed America is “a proud nation of immigrants” and stated the country will again be issuing visas to all countries “once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days”.
Mr Trump’s comments fly in the face of Mr Giuliani however, who said the president had called the action a “Muslim ban” when it was first revealed.
Speaking to former judge Jeanine Ferris Pirro on Fox News, in an interview which was reportedly aired on Saturday night, Mr Giuliani said: “I’ll tell you the whole history. When [Mr Trump] first announced it he said ‘Muslim ban’. He called me up, he said, ‘put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally’.
“I put a commission together with judge [Michael] Mukasey, with congressman [Mike] McCaul, Pete King, whole group of other very expert lawyers on this and what we did was we focused on - instead of religion - danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis.
“Perfectly legal. Perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion, it’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country,” he said.
Protests erupted at airports across America over the weekend as travellers were detained inside. Outside JFK airport people chanted “Let them in” while New York taxi drivers called a temporary strike in solidarity with those affected by the ban.
A federal judge in New York on Saturday night issued an emergency stay to temporarily halt the the deportation of people who had arrived in the country with valid visas or on an approved refugee application.
On Sunday morning the Trump administration U-turned on part of the executive order and claimed that US residents with green cards from the seven countries would not be affected by the ban.
Several judges have called the executive order “unconstitutional”. Over the weekend, Attorneys General from 16 US states condemned the President’s order and the “chaotic situation” it had created.
They said: “Religious liberty has been, and always will be, a bedrock principle of our country and no president can change that truth,” they said.
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