Legal Expert Trump Erroneously Cited To Defend Muslim Ban Actually Thinks Trump Is A Threat To Democracy

Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

The national security law expert miscited by President Donald Trump to criticize a court ruling against his administration is actually a frequent critic of the president who has called the president’s travel ban “malevolence tempered by incompetence.”

Following the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal’s February 9 unanimous ruling against the Trump administration that declined to reinstate the administration’s executive order targeting people from seven majority-Muslim countries, Trump attacked the decision by citing on Twitter a Lawfare article authored by the site’s editor-in-chief, Benjamin Wittes:

Unfortunately for Trump, the article he cited actually reached the conclusion that the 9th Circuit “is correct to leave the [temporary restraining order] in place.” (ThinkProgress notes that Trump likely discovered the article by watching MSNBC’s Morning Joe, which had a segment highlighting the portion of the Lawfare article Trump referenced on Twitter.)

Wittes, who is also a senior fellow in governance studies at The Brookings Institution, took to Twitter to ridicule Trump over other parts of his Lawfare article that Trump could have cited:

Wittes also referenced his harsh critique of the travel ban executive order in a January 28 Lawfare article (headlined “Malevolence Tempered by Incompetence: Trump’s Horrifying Executive Order on Refugees and Visas”), where he wrote that “the malevolence of President Trump’s Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly -- and perhaps only -- by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction”:

He also shared some of his past criticism of the president, such as his routine argument that Trump is a threat to democracy in the United States:

Wittes also called Trump’s patriotism into question after Trump held a July 2016 press conference where he encouraged Russia to commit espionage against his then-opponent Hillary Clinton. In a July 27 article, Wittes wrote, “I am pretty careful about not questioning people's patriotism, but when a presidential candidate calls on a foreign intelligence service to engage in operations against the United States, he leaves us little choice.” That same day he co-authored another article that described Trump as a “useful idiot” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting that Trump “has taken public positions exceedingly favorable to Russia and far outside of the American mainstream.”

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