Attorney General Jeff Sessions has drawn the ire of liberals following his ‘island in the Pacific’ comment that some are claiming was derogatory and disrespectful.
During an interview with conservative talk show host Mark Levin, Sessions stated, “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”
Sessions was speaking about federal judge Derek Watson – whose chambers are in Honolulu (on the island of Oahu) – and his blocking of President Trump’s most recent immigration executive order that temporarily halts immigration from six Middle Eastern countries for 90 days. From the New York Times:
“Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences — including my own,” Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, wrote on Twitter. “Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous.”
The other senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz, who is also a Democrat, expressed similar sentiments, writing on Twitter: “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.”
They can voice their outrage on Twitter. The President can’t though.
In response, Ian Prior, a Department of Justice spokesman, said:
“Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the attorney general’s granddaughter was born. 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.”
In an interview on MSNBC, Jeff Sessions spoke for himself and essentially reiterated what Prior had said:
JEFF SESSIONS: Well, I think that was a perfectly correct statement. We have some 700 federal judges. One of them has now stopped the President of the United States, who is briefed daily from the Department of Defense, the CIA, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, on the dangers and threats we face.
He’s issued a perfectly reasonable executive order that delays six countries for 90 days from being brought — immigrants coming here because we cannot vet them.
SESSIONS: They are state sponsors of terrorism and three are states with terrorists —
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC: Sir, I think the issue — the issue is — the issue is, as a former U.S. attorney and a former U.S. senator and as a lawyer, you sort of diminished a federal judge and you made some reference to somebody being in the middle of the Pacific, suggesting that if they’re not on the mainland United States, it’s not as important.
SESSIONS: I wasn’t diminishing the judge or the island of Hawaii, that beautiful place. Give me a break. I was just making the point that’s very real, one judge, out of 700, has stopped the President of the United States from doing what he believes is necessary to protect our safety and security.
I believe it is constitutionally sound. I believe he has explicit statutory authority to do this act. We expect to prevail on appeal.
Hawaii’s attorney general Doug Chin responded to Sessions: