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Trump, in strategy shift, considers new executive order on travel ban

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President Trump expressed his desire to ‘rapidly’ make the U.S. safer during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
USA TODAY NETWORK

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Friday he’s considering a new executive order on refugees as soon as Monday or Tuesday, even as his administration mulls an appeal of a court decision suspending his previous order barring travelers from seven majority Muslim countries.

“We will win that battle,” Trump said of the court battle. “We also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.”

The shifting White House strategy marked the beginning of a third weekend of chaotic developments on the travel ban, which has stranded air travelers and led to nationwide protests and legal challenges.

After a three-judge panel refused to reinstate the travel ban on Thursday, the next stop would ordinarily be the Supreme Court. But a potential roadblock emerged late Thursday, when a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco asked for the case to be heard by the full court of appeals, setting a deadline of next Thursday for arguments on that question.

Trump, speaking to reporters on Air Force One Friday, suggested that a new executive order would be the most expedient route. “It very well could be. We need speed for reasons of security, so it very well could be.”

The new order would include new security measures, Trump said. “We have very, very strong vetting. I call it extreme vetting and we’re going very strong on security.  We are going to have people coming to our country that want to be here for good reason,” he said.

The San Francisco appeals court decision came in response to a challenge from Washington State, which sued to block provisions of the order temporarily barring nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from traveling to the United States.

A key part of that opinion struck at a provision of the order that applied to permanent legal residents. White House Counsel Donald McGahn later issued a memo clarifying that the ban did not apply to co-called “green card” holders, but the appeals court said the memo did not have the force of law of an executive order and can only be corrected by another executive order.

The Trump administration also continued to fend off legal challenges on other fronts Friday, including in Alexandria, Va. A federal judge there offered a blistering critique of the travel ban Friday, citing a “startling” lack of evidence that travelers from the seven Muslim-majority countries represented a specific national security threat.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema did not immediately rule on a request for a nationwide preliminary injunction against the order, but she characterized its language as overly “broad and imprecise.”

Trump’s comments on Air Force One, while traveling to his winter home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida to gold with the Japanese prime minister, came after he deflected similar questions in a news conference earlier in the day.

“We’ll be going forward and we’ll be doing things that will continue to make this country safe. It will happen rapidly,” he said at the White House. “I feel totally confident that we will have tremendous security for the people of the United States. We will have extreme vetting, which is a term I developed early in my campaign, because I saw what was happening.”

Contributing: David Jackson in Washington and Kevin Johnson in Alexandria, Va.

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