herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Travel ban victory for Trump as he lauds Flynn

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images

The US Supreme Court has handed a victory to President Trump by allowing his latest travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries to go into full effect, even as legal challenges continue in lower courts.

The court, with two of the nine justices dissenting, granted his administration's request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the ban.

It is the third version of a contentious policy that Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office.

The court's action means that the ban will now go fully into effect for people seeking to enter the United States from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad. Lower courts had previously limited the scope of the ban to people without certain family or other connections to the United States.

Trump's ban also covers people from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela, but lower courts had already allowed those provisions to go into effect.

Michael Flynn. Photo: AP
Michael Flynn. Photo: AP

It capped a busy day for the President, who had earlier lobbed new criticism at the special counsel's Russia investigation, saying he feels "very badly" for former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Mr Flynn last week pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about reaching out to the Russians on the president's behalf.

"It's a shame," Mr Trump said of Mr Flynn's situation, adding that it's "very unfair" and that Mr Flynn had "led a very strong life".

Treatment

The president tried to contrast Mr Flynn's treatment with that of his Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, who he said "lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened".

"Flynn lied and they destroyed his life," Mr Trump said.

Mr Flynn is co-operating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Even as Mr Trump sought to minimise Mr Flynn's misdeeds, the Kremlin insisted that Mr Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US had not influenced President Vladimir Putin's response to sanctions imposed by Mr Trump's predecessor.

Mr Flynn was forced to resign in February following reports that Obama administration officials had informed Mr Trump's team that he had discussed sanctions on Russia with ambassador Sergei Kislyak, a fact at odds with the assertions of Vice-President Mike Pence.

Mr Trump unleashed a string of tweets over the weekend in which he criticised the FBI. In one, the president again denied directing former FBI boss James Comey to stop investigating Mr Flynn.

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