Spicer now says Trump’s ‘travel ban’ isn’t a ban at all

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday contradicted statements that President Donald Trump and he himself made on a recent executive order that bans travel from 7 Muslim-majority countries. 

“It’s not a Muslim ban. It’s not a travel ban. It’s a vetting system,” Spicer said. 

Trump’s executive order bans the entry into the United States of citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations for the next 90 days while the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department review their visa screening standards. The nations are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. 

Spicer accused the media of misidentifying the executive order as a “ban”. 

“When we use the word ‘travel ban,’ it misrepresents what it is,” said Spicer. However, Spicer referred to the executive order as “a ban” on Sunday in an appearance on This Week on ABC News. 

“It’s a 90-day ban to ensure that we have further vetting restrictions so that we know who is coming to this country,” said Spicer. A copy of Spicer’s use of the term could be found on the official White House website as of publication.

Trump has referred to his executive order as a ban on multiple occasions. He defended the ban against global criticism on Sunday from the Oval Office. “It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared. It’s working out very nicely,” said Trump. “We’ll have a very, very strict ban and we will have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”

Trump also dismissed criticism that many areas of the federal government and other nations didn’t receive proper advance notice of the ban. 

Widespread criticism of Trump’s controversial move on immigration reached a head on Monday evening when acting Attorney General Sally Yates announced the Department of Justice would not defend it in court. Yates was promptly fired by the Trump White House and replaced by Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. 

Boente has instructed DOJ lawyers to defend the lawful orders of the president. 

Trump on Monday night also replaced the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Daniel Ragsdale, with Thomas Homan, the head of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operation. 

According to Homan’s bio, he led “ICE’s efforts to identify, arrest, detain, and remove illegal aliens, including those who present a danger to national security or are a risk to public safety, as well as those who enter the United States illegally or otherwise undermine the integrity of our immigration laws and our border control efforts.”

Amrita Khalid

Amrita Khalid

Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.