Donald Trump on Sunday took a page from Pontius Pilate’s book and washed his hands from any responsibility for a hypothetical terrorist attack on the US, telling followers they should “blame” a federal judge and the American court system for blocking his executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S.
“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday, one day after a panel of judges denied the White House’s emergency appeal to reinstate the ban. “If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
The US has for years and some of the most rigorous vetting for visas and refugees in the world, and airlines have said travel has not yet recovered to levels that were normal before Trump’s order.
The president’s tweets were the latest in his running attacks on courts. Earlier Sunday, vice-president Mike Pence said Trump had “every right to criticize the other two branches of government” and was not “questioning the legitimacy of the judge”.
On Sunday morning, the president’s allies scrambled to his defense while his opponents hailed the courts as a barricade against a leader who Bernie Sanders said was moving the US “in a very authoritarian direction”.
Twitter users also responded to the president’s Sunday outburst with mockery and alarm.