U.S. President Donald Trump says he told Homeland Security to keep a close eye on people coming into the United States.
Moments after taking another shot at the federal judge who blocked a travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations, Trump issued a tweet saying, “I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY.”
On Saturday morning, Trump launched scathing attacks at U.S. District Judge James Robart on Twitter, terming him a “so-called judge” while calling his ruling “ridiculous.”
Later in the day, he wondered what the U.S. was coming to “when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban.”
The Twitter assault continued Sunday when he wrote, “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
It is unusual for a sitting president to attack a member of the judiciary, which the U.S. Constitution designates as a check on the power of the executive branch and Congress.
On Sunday morning, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence defended Trump’s attack.
“The president of the United States has every right to criticize the other two branches of government,” Pence said on NBC’s program Meet the Press.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not take Trump to task Sunday but also was also not supportive.
“I think it is best not to single out judges for criticism,” McConnell said on CNN’s State of the Union program. “We all get disappointed from time to time at the outcome in courts on things that we care about. But I think it is best to avoid criticizing judges individually.”
WATCH: U.S. Travel ban ‘will be decided in the courts whether or not this has gone too far’: Mitch McConnell
The ruling by Robart, appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, along with the decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to deny the government’s request for an immediate stay, dealt a blow to Trump barely two weeks into his presidency.
It could also be the precursor to months of legal challenges to Trump’s push to clamp down on immigration, including through the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.
With files from Reuters