Here’s where things stand heading into day 19 of the Trump administration:
It might not be the Supreme Court, but when it comes to President Trump’s refugee ban, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit could prove just as powerful.
That is the court where lawyers for the Trump administration and parties challenging the travel ban will face off Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Eastern, presenting arguments for and against Trump’s executive order barring entry to the United States for refugees from around the world and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
A lower-court federal judge in Seattle put the ban on hold Friday. The Justice Department wants the policy enforced again immediately, arguing it is necessary for national security. Challengers, which include the states of Washington and Minnesota, a coalition of former national security officials and nearly 100 tech companies, view the ban as a discriminatory measure that will harm families and the economy without averting any real terrorist threat.
Tuesday’s arguments matter because the 9th Circuit’s ruling could decide the fate of Trump’s ban.
Here’s how. Once the appeals court hears arguments Tuesday night and makes its decision, the losing side is expected to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. Because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year and Republicans’ subsequent refusal to confirm then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, the court remains one justice short with what some see as a 4-to-4 ideological split.
If the Supreme Court considers Trump’s travel ban and splits 4 to 4 in its ruling, the decision of the appeals court stands.
(Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is awaiting confirmation hearings. Republicans are hoping to confirm him by early April.)
DEMOCRATS BAND TOGETHER TO OPPOSE TRUMP’S CABINET
Senate Democrats don’t have enough votes to block the confirmation of Trump’s Cabinet, but that doesn’t mean they can’t lodge a protest.
Those Democrats are expected to vote virtually en masse against Trump’s nominees to lead the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget — a nod to progressive groups demanding aggressive opposition to Trump’s nominees and policy agenda.
TRUMP CLAIMS MEDIA COVERING UP TERRORIST ATTACKS
The new president made an astonishing claim Monday that the media is intentionally covering up terrorist attacks.
Speaking to military leaders at U.S. Central Command in Florida, Trump offered no evidence to support his accusation.
“You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening,” he said. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer later tried to soften the comment. “He felt members of the media don’t always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered,” he told journalists on Air Force One.
The White House later released a list of terrorist incidents it called underreported, including last year’s mass shooting in Orlando, and the 2015 attacks in Paris.
POTUS DISMISSES NEGATIVE POLLS AS ‘FAKE NEWS’
Trump also made waves Monday with a tweet seeking to neutralize polls that reveal his approval ratings, which are historically low for this early point in his presidency.
Here is a look at what polls have found:
—His average approval rating is lower than his disapproval rating, according to the RealClearPolitics average.
—A CNN poll showed that 53 percent disapproved of his refugee ban executive order vs. 47 percent who approved. A CBS News poll showed that Americans disapprove of it 51 percent to 45 percent. And Gallup showed 55 percent against and 42 percent for.
—The Gallup poll showed that Americans opposed his border wall, 60 percent to 38 percent.
—Gallup also showed they oppose halting the Syrian refugee program, 58 percent to 36 percent.
—The CBS poll showed that people believed banning refugees went against the founding principles of the United States, 57 percent to 35 percent.
—A Quinnipiac poll last week showed that people thought Trump would be a worse president than Barack Obama, 50 percent to 37 percent.
—Polls have shown that 7 in 10 would like more information on Trump’s finances and his tax returns.