How Donald Trump played himself over the Muslim ban

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On Thursday evening the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed President Donald Trump a stinging rebuke when it ruled against reinstating his controversial Muslim travel ban.

In response to the judicial smackdown, Trump did what Trump always seems to do: tweet angry nonsense more fit for a preschool tantrum than a presidential missive.


But, as the Ninth Circuit pointed out in its ruling, Trump himself is largely to blame for Thursday's defeat.


In other words, Trump can't argue his Muslim ban isn't a Muslim ban because he's spent more than a year arguing it was just that. Let's take a trip down memory lane.

In December, 2015, then-candidate Trump issued a formal statement on "Preventing Muslim Immigration" into the United States. In it, Trump called for for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."


Here he is announcing the proposal in front of a campaign crowd

And, yeah, the statement is still up on his website.

He later defended the proposal during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper.

Trump would eventually calibrate his rhetoric, shifting from "Muslim ban" to a slightly more palatable-sounding proposal that focused on geography rather than religion.


"So you call it territories, OK?" Trump said during a July, 2016 60 Minutes interview in which he was asked about running mate Mike Pence's opposition to a Muslim Ban. "We’re gonna do territories," he insisted. A week later, he defended the shift, telling NBC's Chuck Todd that the change was "an expansion."

Slippery language aside, it was Trump supporter and ghoulish Scooby-Doo villain Rudy Giuliani who confirmed what everyone already knew: Territories-shcmerritories! The President wanted to ban Muslims from entering the country.


During an interview with Fox News, Giuliani admitted that Trump had specifically asked for a legal loophole to enact his plan.

"When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,'" Giuliani explained. "He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’"


That commission, Giuliani continued, eventually settled on nationality, rather than religious beliefs. "Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible," he insisted.

Giuliani's comments were repeatedly cited in the hearing that the Ninth Circuit held to determine its ruling.


When confronted with Giuliani's comments, White House spokesman Sean Spicer valiantly tried to defend the ban as…not being one at all.

Spicer claimed that President Trump "made it very clear this is not a Muslim ban, it’s not a travel ban, it’s a vetting system to keep America safe. That’s it, plain and simple." When asked why the president had repeatedly used the term "ban" in the past, Spicer insisted that Trump was simply "using the words that the media is using."


Trump, however, begged to differ.


While it's entirely likely the legal battle over Trump's Muslim ban will end up in the Supreme Court for a final ruling, for now one thing is clear:

Congratulations, Donald Trump—You played yourself.