Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, during a Saturday interview on Fox News, seemed to indicate that the executive order President Trump signed on Friday was, by design, the best legal way to fulfill Trump’s desire to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. without illegally banning Muslims. Recounting the process which led to the new executive order, Giuliani said that Trump had asked him to put a commission together to come up with “the right way” to implement Trump’s oft-proposed Muslim ban, legally. To accomplish that, the commission, which included lawmakers and lawyers, then decided that “instead of religion, danger” would be the focus, according to Giuliani.
During his presidential campaign, Trump had repeatedly called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S., citing fears of terrorism. The new president’s executive order temporarily bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as all refugees, from entering the United States, including an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
“The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis,” Giuliani remarked on Saturday, “Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible.”
The seven countries included in the ban, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, were chosen because they had already been selected under an amended 2015 Obama administration bill, which had restricted those countries’ citizens from the U.S. visa waiver program, having identified the nations as “safe havens” for terrorists. In fact, no terrorists from any of the seven countries in the Obama bill or Trump order have conducted fatal attacks in the U.S. over the past three-plus decades, and Obama’s bill, at the time, was largely seen as a measure of security theater, following recent terrorist attacks both in the U.S. and around the world.
Trump administration officials have also pointed out that the list of banned countries can, and likely will, grow.
Giuliani, Trump, and members of the Trump administration have all repeatedly insisted that Trump’s new executive order is not a “Muslim ban.” Giuliani’s comments on Saturday suggest it was instead intended as a legal substitute: