Donald Trump considering 'brand new' immigration order
President says he will win legal battle over travel ban as confusion reigns over whether he will appeal to supreme court
Donald Trump has said he is considering signing a "brand-new" executive order on immigration, following the court ruling blocking his travel ban on Thursday.
The US president said he was confident he would win the court battle over the hugely controversial executive order suspending the country's refugee programme and barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, and which is currently blocked.
He said the White House was also considering "a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order". Asked if he meant a new executive order, he said: "It very well could be. We need speed for reasons of security, so it very well could be."
Speaking onboard Air Force One on his way to Florida for the weekend, Trump said he could sign a fresh executive order as soon as Monday or Tuesday. Asked what revisions the new order would include, he said: "New security measures."
He said a new order would probably change "very little" from the first, according to the Associated Press.
There was confusion about whether the administration intended to take the fight to the supreme court, following his setback in a San Francisco federal court on Thursday.
Despite the president claiming he would "win that [legal] battle" over the travel ban, a White House official told Reuters the president had decided not to go to the supreme court.
"The temporary restraining order, we would not take to the supreme court, but we are reviewing all options in the court system," the official was quoted as saying.
Minutes later the Washington Post quoted White House chief of staff Reince Priebus as saying the administration was "reviewing all of our options in the court system" – including the supreme court.
The ruling by the ninth US circuit court of appeals in San Francisco on Thursday applies only to the question of whether district judge James Robart in Seattle was correct in issuing a temporary restraining order against the travel ban. Trump could choose to sidestep this fight and concentrate on the legal proceedings over whether the travel ban is constitutional, which will continue in Robart's court over the next weeks.
Separately, an unidentified judge on the ninth circuit on Friday requested that the court consider reconsidering the travel ban case "en banc" – or by a full panel of 11 judges. The court's 25 judges will vote on the issue after both sides file briefs, which are due on 16 February.
Earlier, Trump had said he would make a fresh policy announcement next week in response to the ruling, but he gave few details about his next move in a tussle with the judiciary that has stymied one of his first and most controversial measures.
"We'll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country," Trump told a joint press conference with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe. "You'll see something next week."
Trump suffered a setback on Thursday when a US appeals court refused to reinstate the temporary travel ban. Trump responded swiftly on Twitter with a message in capitals that said: "SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!"
Speaking at the White House, the president insisted: "We are going to keep our country safe, we are going to do whatever is necessary to keep our country safe. We had a decision which we think we are going to be very successful with, it shouldn't take too much time ... Ultimately I have no doubt we'll win that particular case."
He added: "There are tremendous threats to our country. We will not allow that to happen. We will continue to do things to make our country safe. We will not allow people into our country who are looking to do harm to our people."
Trump's order barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and barred all refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria were banned indefinitely. It triggered disarray at airports and widespread protests.
Trump's defeated election opponent, Hillary Clinton, also responded to the court ruling, with a tweet that read: "3-0" – presumably a reference either to the three judges' unanimous verdict or three consecutive rulings against the ban.
Democrats welcomed the verdict as a triumph for America's democratic checks and balances. Joe Crowley, leader of the House Democratic caucus, said: "This is a major, major, major defeat for the administration. And I think there will be more, because they will continue to overstep."
Addressing Trump's angry tweet, Crowley said: "The president needs to grow up."
The president seems likely to take the battle all the way to the supreme court but he is also fending off more than a dozen additional lawsuits now moving through the courts. Lawyers for the state of Virginia are mounting one of the challenges, arguing that the ban violates the constitution and results from "animus toward Muslims".
Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the Virginia attorney general, Mark Herring, said Friday's hearing in a federal court posed the most significant state challenge yet to Trump's order. In a statement, he said it "will be the most in-depth examination of the merits of the arguments against the ban".
The district court in Washington state – the court where the temporary restraining order was issued – will continue to consider the original complaint of irreparable harm brought by the attorney general. The process, which could take months, could result in a ruling "on the merits" of the ban, which would involve a detailed legal evaluation of the constitutional and statutory arguments.
Abe was the only world leader to meet Trump before his inauguration and is the second, after Theresa May, to do so since the president took office. The meeting was seen as an opportunity to shore up US-Japanese relations after Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a flagship trade deal created by Barack Obama.
Abe said: "On TPP, of course we are fully aware of President Trump's decision. On economic issues, we will be discussing at the working lunch to follow. As for Japan and the United States, trade and investment as well as economic relations, how can we develop and grow our relationship?"
The prime minister said "a new framework for dialogue" was already being developed. "And I am quite optimistic that the good results will be seen from the dialogue. Now, to make sure it is a free and fair common set of rules to be created for the free trade regime in the region, and that was the purpose of TPP, and that importance has not changed."
Both leaders were keen to stress their warm relationship. "I grabbed him and hugged him because that's the way we feel," Trump said. "We have a very good bond, a very good chemistry."
Meeting in the Oval Office, Trump reportedly told the Japanese prime minister: "You have a strong handshake."
Then, at a press conference in the east room, Trump welcomed Abe to the "very famous White House". He promised joint co-operation, including "against the North Korean missile and nuclear threat, both of which I consider a very, very high priority", and on a free and fair trade relationship.
Abe, on a charm offensive, refrained from criticising Trump over the TPP. He hailed the US as a "champion of democracy" and Trump as "an excellent businessman" who had learned political skills during last year's election campaign.
Although he nodded along and seemed to be listening intently, Trump was not wearing a translation earpiece during Abe's remarks. Asked if Trump had worn an earpiece, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House deputy press secretary, said: "I don't believe during that time. But he did see the text and they spoke quite extensively before the remarks." Trump did put a small speaker to his right ear during the question and answer session.
On Saturday, Trump will host Abe and his wife at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. The two leaders are scheduled to play golf on Saturday. A White House official said Trump was paying for Abe and his wife to travel to Mar-a-Lago as a "gift" – sidestepping ethical concerns that his properties might profit from a foreign visitor.
Abe said modestly: "My score in golf is not up to the level of Donald at all."
At the press conference, Trump took only two questions from western media outlets: the New York Post and Fox Business Network, both owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has been supportive of his campaign and administration. There was no opportunity during the short question-and-answer session for reporters from other organisations to ask about the controversies swirling around Trump's aides Kellyanne Conway and Michael Flynn.
While Conway, who is counsellor to the president, was rebuked by the White House on Thursday after she appeared on television urging the public to buy the branded products of the president's daughter Ivanka, the allegations against Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, are potentially far more serious. Reports claim that Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington before taking office, contrary to his earlier adamant denials.
The report in the Washington Post contradicted Flynn's assertion on Wednesday that he never discussed the topic with Sergey Kislyak during a series of phone calls in December, while Obama was still president.
On Friday, Flynn's staff at the national security council said he could no longer be sure whether sanctions had been discussed.
Democrat Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House permanent select committee on intelligence, said: "The allegation that General Flynn, while President Obama was still in office, secretly discussed with Russia's ambassador ways to undermine the sanctions levied against Russia for its interference in the Presidential election on Donald Trump's behalf, raises serious questions of legality and fitness for office.
"If he did so, and then he and other administration officials misled the American people, his conduct would be all the more pernicious, and he should no longer serve in this administration or any other."
Late on Thursday, Trump reaffirmed Washington's longstanding "one China" policy in a call with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. The move looked set to ease tensions with China after earlier concerns that Trump might use Taiwan – a democratically ruled island that Beijing considers a breakaway province – as leverage in negotiations over trade, security and other issues.
At his White House press conference, Trump said of the call with Xi: "It was a very warm conversation. I think we are on the process of getting along very well. That will also be of benefit to Japan. We discussed a lot of subjects. It was a long talk."
The president's cabinet picks also continue to face resistance. Protesters blocked the new education secretary, Betsy DeVos, when she tried to enter a school in Washington on Friday morning. One demonstrator stood in front of the stairway entrance, prompting DeVos to walk back to her vehicle, though she eventually entered the building.
The Senate voted along party lines early on Friday to confirm Tom Price, a conservative Georgia congressman and harsh critic of Obama's healthcare reform, as health secretary. Trump had vowed to repeal and replace "Obamacare" immediately but has since conceded that the process is complicated and may take time.
The Democratic senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, speaking at a Washington Post forum, said that on inauguration day, he felt the odds were 80-20 that the Affordable Care Act would get repealed. "Now I'm not sure it's even 50-50." Democrats were willing to work with Republicans on various fixes and improvements, he added.
Additional reporting by Julia Carrie Wong