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Trump lashes out at federal judge over ruling on travel ban

In this Jan. 30, 2017, file photo, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, right, speaks in Seattle as Gov. Jay Inslee looks on, announcing that he is suing President Donald Trump over an executive order that suspended immigration from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations and sparked nationwide protests. AP Photo | Ted S. Warren

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump lashed out Saturday at “this so-called judge” who put a nationwide hold on his executive order denying entry to the U.S. to refugees and people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The ruling set in motion another weekend of confusion and chaos around the country.

The White House pledged to swiftly appeal the federal judge’s ruling late Friday, but that didn’t appear to be enough for Trump, who vented his frustrations on Twitter.

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump said.

Trump has said the travel ban, which he enacted by executive order on Jan. 27, will keep Americans safe by keeping potential terrorists from entering the country.

He also said Saturday on Twitter that “when a country is no longer able to say who can and who cannot come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security — big trouble!”

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle ruled late Friday against government lawyers’ claims that Washington state and Minnesota, which sued over the ban, lacked the legal grounds to challenge Trump’s order. Robart said the states showed that their case was likely to succeed.

“The state has met its burden in demonstrating immediate and irreparable injury,” Robart said.

Trump’s order last week sparked protests nationwide and confusion at airports as some travelers were detained. The White House has argued it will make the country safer.Washington became the first state to sue over the order that temporarily bans travel for people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen and suspends the U.S. refugee program.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said this week that the travel ban significantly harms residents and effectively mandates discrimination. Minnesota joined the suit two days later. After the ruling, Ferguson said people from the affected countries can now apply for entry to the U.S.

“Judge Robart’s decision, effective immediately … puts a halt to President Trump’s unconstitutional and unlawful executive order,” Ferguson said. “The law is a powerful thing — it has the ability to hold everybody accountable to it, and that includes the president of the United States.”

Gillian M. Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

But later, the White House said it will seek an emergency stay to Robart’s order. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump’s executive order issued last week was “lawful and appropriate.” An initial statement said the judge’s order was “outrageous,” but it was later revised to remove that word.

Federal attorneys had argued that Congress gave the president authority to make decisions on national security and immigrant entry.

The two states won a temporary restraining order while the court considers the lawsuit, which aims to permanently block Trump’s order. Court challenges have been filed nationwide from states and advocacy groups.

Shortly before Robart’s ruling in Seattle, a federal judge in Boston ruled in favor of the Trump administration when he declined to extend a temporary injunction against the travel ban.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston declined to renew an order prohibiting the detention or removal of people as part of Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigrants. That means a seven-day, temporary injunction granted Jan. 29 would have expired as scheduled Sunday.

But Robart’s decision made clear that his order applied nationwide.

Up to 60,000 foreigners from the seven majority-Muslim countries had their visas canceled because of the executive order, the State Department said Friday.

That figure contradicts a statement from a Justice Department lawyer on the same day during a court hearing in Virginia about the ban. The lawyer in that case said about 100,000 visas had been revoked.

The State Department clarified that the higher figure includes diplomatic and other visas that were actually exempted from the travel ban, as well as expired visas.

Washington and Minnesota’s lawsuit says Trump campaigned on a promise to ban Muslims from coming to the U.S. and kept up that rhetoric while defending the travel ban. Lawyers pointed to dozens of speeches and statements Trump has made.

“The executive order effectively mandates that the states engage in discrimination based on national origin and/or religion, thereby rescinding the states’ historic protection of civil rights and religious freedom,” the complaint says.

Ferguson said the order is harming Washington residents, businesses and its education system. It will reduce tax revenue and impose significant costs on state agencies, as well as make it impossible for some state employees and students to travel, he said.

Washington-based businesses Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft support the state’s efforts to stop the order. They say it’s hurting their operations, too.

Lawyers for Washington state said another hearing was expected in the next few weeks.