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As critics protested President Trump’s executive order on refugees over the weekend, and administration officials claimed the policy was being implemented smoothly, the White House charged that the criticism was based on too few people looking at the actual order.
But the order itself was not posted on the official website, WH.gov, for the public to read for three days.
“I think a lot of people have not read exactly what the order says,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday, roughly two hours after the order was made available to the public on the White House website. “[Critics] are basing their opinion on misguided media reports.”
The official order, “Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States,” was signed last Friday, along with a separate Trump directive on rebuilding the military.
Neither appeared on the White House webpage of executive actions until midday on Monday, when the order on refugees was published on the site.
It did not appear to be an issue of weekend workflow. Orders signed on Saturday were up on the webpage within hours that day.
When asked the reason for the delay, White House Senior Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short told the NewsHour on Monday that it was “a vendor issue.” The White House did not respond immediately to further questions.
The lack of a public posting of the order came during days of intense attention on the president’s action and confusion over exactly what it proscribed.
President Trump signed the order at 4:42 p.m EST, forcing federal officials to scramble to implement the policy over the weekend.
The White House emailed the specific language of the order to the media just over two hours later, before 7 p.m. EST on Friday — some 60-plus hours before the full text was made available online.
Lisa Desjardins is a correspondent for PBS NewsHour, where she covers news from the U.S. Capitol while also traveling across the country to report on how decisions in Washington affect people where they live and work.
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