My co-bloggers Ilya Somin, Jon Adler, Orin Kerr and Will Baude — not to mention Ben Wittes’s withering critique over at Lawfare — have already dissected President Trump’s executive order (misleadingly titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals”) (full text here) and addressed many of its more appalling features, including its cruelty, ineffectiveness and the truly staggering incompetence with which it was drafted.
But there’s more. Wittes correctly points to the absence of any “rational relationship” between the countries targeted by the ban and “any expected counterterrorism goods.”
The 9/11 hijackers, after all, didn’t come from Somalia or Syria or Iran; they came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt and a few other countries not affected by the order.
But there is, it turns out, an explanation for why some countries are inside, and others outside, the ban. It has nothing to do with counterterrorism. You should take a quick look at this graphic (and accompanying documentation) put together by Bloomberg News. Here’s the list of predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East covered by Trump’s order:
Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen.
Here’s the list of predominantly Muslim countries where the Trump Organization has done business:
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan.
What a coincidence; there’s no overlap. The places where the Trump Organization has done business are exempted from the ban.
Even Saudi Arabia, for goodness’ sake! The one country we know for certain has allowed, if it did not actively encourage, emigrants who attacked the United States on 9/11. But Trump has business interests in Saudi Arabia, and a guy shouldn’t have to give up his business interests just because he’s going into “public service,” now should he?
This adds up to malfeasance of the highest order. Can we now stop the debate about whether Trump’s business interests will influence his policymaking, and move on to the more important question, which is how do we protect ourselves from this despot and start the work of getting him removed from office?
In his inaugural speech, Trump said that from now on, “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”
That was, not to put too fine a point on it, bulls—. Some will be made to benefit Trump.
I know some VC readers still count themselves among Trump’s supporters, and are interested in engaging in serious discussion of his presidency. In that spirit, I’d ask you: Do you have an alternative explanation of why, say, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are exempted from the ban? What is it? Or do you think that Trump allowed business interests to interfere with his public policymaking, but you don’t think that constitutes an impeachable offense?