Trump asked aides 'can we just get rid of the judges?', book claims

‘There shouldn’t be any judges at all, really,’ president complains after court defeats

Peter Stubley
Friday 08 November 2019 14:13 GMT
Donald Trump's new travel ban blocked nationwide by federal judge

Donald Trump suggested “getting rid” of federal judges after the courts repeatedly ruled against his controversial policies, according to a senior administration official.

The US president even asked lawyers to draft a bill reducing the number of judges during one of his rants in the White House, it is claimed.

“Can we just get rid of the judges?”, the president asked aides, according to the anonymous author of A Warning. “Let’s get rid of the [expletive] judges... There shouldn’t be any at all, really.”

Mr Trump has suffered several reversals in the courts since he became president – most notably in relation to his 2017 ban on travel from seven Muslim countries including Iran, Somalia and Yemen.

After the executive order was blocked by Washington district judge James Robart, Mr Trump accused him of putting the country in peril and added:”If something happens blame him and court system.” An amended version of the ban was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2018.

In November 2018 Mr Trump renewed his attacks on the judiciary after district judge Jon Tigar halted the Trump administration’s attempts to prevent migrants from applying for asylum.

Despite being rebuked by Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts for describing judge Tigar as an “Obama judge”, the president went on to claim that 9th US Circuit Court of Appeal was “a complete and total disaster” and “out of control”.

More recently a federal court judge ruled Mr Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over the country’s southern border was unlawful. And this week an appeals court ordered the president to hand over his tax returns to prosecutors.

However, rather than getting rid of federal judges, Mr Trump appears to have decided to simply appoint more judges in an attempt to “tip the balance” of the courts.

The president has already nominated two Supreme Court justices, 44 Circuit Court judges, and 112 District Court judges, according to the White House.

In a statement hailing what it calls a “historic transformation of the judiciary”, the Trump administration complained that “activist judges have repeatedly used nationwide injunctions to block the policies of the democratically-elected president.”

One federal judge claimed on Wednesday that Mr Trump’s repeated attacks on the judiciary were undermining public faith in the rule of law.

During a lecture in Washington, district judge Paul Friedman said:“We are witnessing a chief executive who criticises virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms.”

He added: “We are in uncharted territory.”

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