Sessions On "Island In The Pacific" Remark: I Wasn't Diminishing The Judge Or Hawaii, "Give Me A Break"

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MSNBC's Ali Velshi asks Attorney General Jeff Sessions about his "island in the Pacific" remark in an interview Friday. The AG was making a comment about a judge who decided against a Trump executive order banning immigrants from several countries in the Middle East.

VELSHI: Attorney General Sessions, on March 30th, exactly three weeks ago, Judge Derrick Watson of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii rejected the government's request to limit his earlier ruling on President Trump's travel order, in which he’d said it discriminated against Muslims.

On Wednesday, you said this on the radio.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SESSIONS: I really am amazed that a judge, sitting on an island in the Pacific, can issue an order that stops the President of the United States.

(END AUDIO CLIP)


VELSHI: Attorney General, what do you have to say about that?

SESSIONS: Well, I think that was a perfectly correct statement. We have some 700 federal judges. One of them has now stopped the President of the United States, who is briefed daily from the Department of Defense, the CIA, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, on the dangers and threats we face.

He's issued a perfectly reasonable executive order that delays six countries for 90 days from being brought -- immigrants coming here because we cannot vet them.

(CROSSTALK)

SESSIONS: They are state sponsors of terrorism and three are states with terrorists --

VELSHI: Sir, I think the issue -- the issue is -- the issue is, as a former U.S. attorney and a former U.S. senator and as a lawyer, you sort of diminished a federal judge and you made some reference to somebody being in the middle of the Pacific, suggesting that if they're not on the mainland United States, it's not as important.

SESSIONS: I wasn't diminishing the judge or the island of Hawaii, that beautiful place. Give me a break. I was just making the point that’s very real, one judge, out of 700, has stopped the President of the United States from doing what he believes is necessary to protect our safety and security.

I believe it is constitutionally sound. I believe he has explicit statutory authority to do this act. We expect to prevail on appeal.


Doug Chin, Hawaii’s Attorney General, says that Donald Trump is “a President, but he’s not the king,” and that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not respecting the separation of powers:

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