President Donald Trump on Monday signed a reworked version of his controversial travel ban Monday, aiming to withstand court challenges while still barring new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and temporarily shutting down America’s refugee program.
The revised travel order leaves Iraq off the list of banned countries but still affects would-be visitors and immigrants from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.
Sean Spicer talked about the travel ban in an off-camera press briefing. Listen to the briefing in the player above.
Trump privately signed the new order Monday while Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally unveiled the new edict. They did not take questions from reporters.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not hold an-camera briefing Monday, leading to the appearance that the president was distancing himself from the order, which was a signature issue during his campaign and the first days of his presidency.
“I think today was about the implementation of it,” Spicer said at the briefing off camera.
The president repeatedly insisted he would continue to fight for the original order in court, even as aides worked to craft a new one. In the end, they chose to rescind the old order — though Spicer maintained on Monday the first was “100 percent legal and constitutional,” but faced too many legal hurdles.
The low-key rollout was in contrast to the first version of the order, which Trump signed a week after his inauguration in a high-profile ceremony at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes as Secretary of Defense James Mattis stood by.
The order also risks being overshadowed by unsubstantiated accusations Trump made over the weekend that former President Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of his phone during the campaign.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who successfully challenged Trump’s initial travel ban in court, says he’s taking a serious look at the new version issued Monday.
In an emailed statement, Ferguson said the president “has capitulated on numerous key provisions blocked by our lawsuit.” They include banning legal permanent residents, visa holders and dual citizens from entering the country, as well as explicit preferences based on religion.
Washington and Minnesota won legal challenges to the original travel ban last month when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the order after a lower court blocked it. The court rulings allowed refugees and people traveling from the seven countries on the list to enter the United States on previously issued visas.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is backing the updated version of Trump’s travel ban.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Wisconsin Republican condemned Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. But in a statement Monday, Ryan says Trump’s revised executive order advances “our shared goal” of protecting the United States.
Ryan also commends Trump administration officials for “their hard work on this measure to improve our vetting standards.”
Trump’s critics say the focus on predominantly Muslim countries will leave the impression the order is effectively a ban on Muslims.