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The Wall Street Journal: Jeff Sessions belittles Hawaii, rips judge who blocked travel ban

April 20, 2017
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a radio interview this week played down the stature of a federal judge in Hawaii who suspended President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on visas and refugees.

During an appearance on the Mark Levin Show, Sessions said, “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the U.S. from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”

Federal Judge in Hawaii Extends Block on Trump’s Travel Ban

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A federal judge in Hawaii extended his order blocking President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban. Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin spoke outside courtroom, saying the revised ban discriminated against Muslims and hurts the state’s economy. Photo: AP

Late Thursday, a Justice Department spokesman clarified the attorney general’s statements after rebukes from Hawaiian officials and others. “Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the Attorney General’s granddaughter was born,” the spokesman said. “The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the president’s lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe,” he added.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu, appointed by former President Barack Obama, was one of two judges who in March halted the revised order. The measure sought to suspend the U.S. refugee program and restrict entry to the U.S. for people from six Muslim-majority countries. Watson, in suspending the order nationwide on March 15, said Trump likely engaged in unconstitutional religious discrimination in issuing the order.

Officials from Hawaii reacted particularly sharply to Sessions’ characterization of their home state.

Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect. https://t.co/sW9z3vqBqG

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 20, 2017

State of Hawaii has many islands, not one island. We have around 1.5 m people. Island of Hawaii has 186,000 people. Please use the google. https://t.co/aoZewx7jzT

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 20, 2017

Hey Jeff Sessions, this #IslandinthePacific has been the 50th state for going on 58 years. And we won’t succumb to your dog whistle politics

— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) April 20, 2017

Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences- including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous

— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) April 20, 2017

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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