Did immigration order get advance legal review? Agencies cut out, but not Justice, sources say

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President Donald Trump. stock_photo_world / Shutterstock, Inc.

Career officials at the Homeland Security Department, the State Department and other agencies didn’t get much information about President Donald Trump’s executive order banning some immigrants.

James Jay Carafano, a vice president of the conservative Heritage Foundation who is a member of Trump’s transition team, said the firewall was erected because of a fear of leaks, the New York Times reports.

The secretary of homeland security, Gen. John Kelly, didn’t get his first full briefing on the order until Friday. Trump signed the order during the briefing, according to the Times.

White House strategist Stephen Bannon oversaw drafting of the executive order, which temporarily banned refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries, and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees. The usual process that would have allowed for agency input didn’t occur, according to the Times and CNN.

It appears to be something of a pattern, according to the Times. “In his first week in office,” the Times says, “Trump signed other executive actions with little or no legal review, but his order barring refugees has had the most explosive implications.”

CNN reported that the White House did not seek review from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, but administration officials disputed the account.

Unnamed administration officials and a Justice Department official who spoke with BuzzFeed News all said the Office of Legal Counsel did review the order. The Justice official wouldn’t say whether the review found the immigration order was lawful on its face. But administration officials said the Office of Legal Counsel had approved Trump’s executive orders.

The Office of Legal Counsel is being overseen in an interim capacity by Curtis Gannon, who was appointed principal deputy attorney general Jan. 20. He is a former law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia who argued 24 Supreme Court cases as assistant to the solicitor general, a post he held since 2007.




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