President Trump on Wednesday went after a panel of federal judges weighing whether a court order blocking his travel ban should be lifted.
Speaking to a gathering of law enforcement officials, Trump argued the judges should immediately reinstate the executive order in the name of national security.
“I don’t want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased,” the president said at a gathering of the Major Cities Chiefs Association in Washington. “Courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they could read a statement and do what’s right.”
He vented his frustration at the legal arguments made by judges and attorneys on both sides of the case, even reading aloud a portion of immigration law he believes backs up his executive order barring the intake of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Trump argued the law gives him broad powers to control who enters and leaves the U.S.
“A bad high school student would understand this. Anybody would understand this,” he said.
“They were talking about things that just had nothing to do this,” he said of the judges.
“But I have to be honest that if these judges wanted to, in my opinion, help the court in terms of respect for the court, they do what they should be doing,” he added. “It’s so sad.”
It’s highly unusual for presidents to publicly comment on court cases dealing with their policy proposals — particularly as a court is weighing a case. But Trump has repeatedly proven he’s willing to break longstanding political norms.
Trump said on Tuesday evening that he watched the oral arguments in front of a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which was broadcast live on cable news.
The judges aggressively questioned a Justice Department lawyer about the evidence Trump was using to bar people from the countries included in the executive order and the national security powers of the president.
The solicitor general of Washington state, which is suing to block the order, was also grilled over whether the nationwide temporary restraining order handed down by a lower court was too broad and whether his contention the ban amounted to religious discrimination.
Trump appeared to take issue with media coverage of the hearing, which centered on the government lawyer’s struggle to make the administration’s case, as well as any skepticism of the order itself.
“I listened to a bunch of stuff on television last night that was disgraceful,” he said.
Trump argued that the country is in danger of being attacked by terrorists as long as the order is on hold.
“I think it’s sad, I think it’s a sad day,” he said. “I think our security is at risk today. And it will be at risk until such time that we are entitled and get what we are entitled to as citizens of this country. We want security.”