WASHINGTON: The US government has defended President Donald Trump's travel ban as a "lawful exercise" of his authority, and claimed that a federal court made a mistake in barring enforcement of the measure. With the ban suspended since Friday, the legal battle has moved to San Francisco, where Justice Department lawyers yesterday defended the executive order and said the nationwide injunction against it was "vastly overbroad." A hearing has been set in the case for Tuesday at 3:00 PM (2300 GMT).
Meanwhile two new polls show that a majority of Americans now oppose the ban, which sparked chaos at US airports -- findings that Trump angrily dismissed as media lies. "Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election," he said on Twitter. "Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting."
Trump, who paid a visit to US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, earlier in the day once again roundly condemned the media -- accusing them of downplaying the terror threat his administration has cited to justify its travel ban. "Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11, as they did from Boston to Orlando to San Bernardino, and all across Europe," the president told military personnel. "And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it," he claimed. "They have their reasons, and you understand that."
Asked to explain Trump's comments, White House spokesman Sean Spicer promised to "provide a list" of attacks that had been "underreported." "Protests will get blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn't necessarily get the same coverage," he said. A federal court that temporarily rolled back Trump's directive "erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order," the government told the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in asking that the ban be reinstated.
"But even if some relief were appropriate, the court's sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad," it said. The president's executive order summarily denied entry to all refugees for 120 days, and travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days -- a move critics charge will damage US interests. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.