— -- Vice President Mike Pence defended President Donald Trump’s criticism of a federal judge who blocked an executive action temporarily barring immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering entry the U.S.
In an interview that will air Sunday on “This Week,” ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Pence whether it was appropriate for the president to question the legitimacy of a federal judge by referring to him in a tweet as a “so-called judge.”
“President Trump’s made it clear that our administration is going to put the safety and security of the American people first,” Pence said. “And the executive order that he put into effect, which suspends immigration from seven countries that have been compromised by terrorism and don't have the kind of internal systems that we can be certain that people that are applying to come to this country are who they say they are was legal - it was appropriate and our administration is going to be using all legal means at our disposal to challenge the judge’s order.”
Stephanopoulos pressed the vice president specifically about the president’s response, asking, “Is it right for the president to say ‘so-called’ judge’? Doesn’t that undermine the separation of powers in the constitution?”
“I don’t think it does,” said Pence. “I think the American people are very accustomed to this president speaking his mind and speaking very straight with them.”
U.S. District Judge James Robart on Friday placed a nationwide, temporary restraining order on Trump’s executive action on immigrants and refugees.
Judge Robart was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate by a 99-0 vote in 2004.
Pence went on to say he finds it frustrating that a federal judge would suspend a legally executed executive order designed to protect homeland security.
When asked by Stephanopoulos whether the judge also had the authority to stay the order, Pence said, “He certainly does, and that’s why the administration is complying with that order as we speak. And we’ll go through the process in the courts to get a stay of that order, so that, again, we can implement this action that is entirely focused on the safety and security of the American people.”
In the wake of Judge Robart's decision, 60,000 visas that had been canceled under the immigration order again became valid, the State Department said Saturday. The Department of Homeland Security also announced it has stopped implementing key parts of the immigration order, and that its personnel will return to -screening travelers in accordance with "standard procedure and policy."
"In accordance with the judge's ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order," the Homeland Security Department's acting press secretary Gillian Christensen said.