I do not know whether I should laugh or cry as a lawyer at the latest antics of the Trump administration. They have been litigating the Moslem travel ban for some time. Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia heard oral arguments about the ban. One of the key issues is whether the ban intentionally targets a religion, the Muslim religion. The judges asked several pointed questions about past statements by Pres. Trump advocating a Moslem ban. The DOJ lawyers argued the Executive Order was not intended to apply to Muslims in particular. The judges even noted that on Pres. Trump’s campaign website, he still advocates a Moslem immigration ban.
Then, on Monday, a reporter asked Sean Spicer at a press briefing if the Trump Pence website still included the language advocating a ban on Moslem immigration. Mr. Spicer said he was not aware of any such language on the website. There was at the time a link that said, “DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION.” Within minutes of that question to Mr. Spicer, the link and the language disappeared. It became a blank URL. Within minutes. See CBS news report.
As a lawyer, I do not know whether I should laugh or cry. Fudging with evidence within minutes of a question like that almost guarantees a conclusion of guilt. It just highlights a web page that might have been ignored for a little longer. How can the administration claim in court that the ban is secular when it has language targeting Muslims on its website? If it has language targeting Muslims, how can it seriously bring attention to that language by making it go away so suddenly? From the Administration’s perspective, this is no way to manage a lawsuit.