When Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) called the White House's executive order on refugees into question, President Donald Trump accused them of "looking to start World War III."
In a joint statement issued Sunday, McCain and Graham criticized the president's freezing of the U.S.'s refugee resettlement program, saying they "fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism."
Shortly after the statement was released, Trump tore into the two Republican senators.
The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain & Lindsey Graham is wrong - they are sadly weak on immigration. The two...— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1485726358.0
...Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1485726572.0
In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, McCain said Trump's executive action could further exacerbate issues with ISIS.
"I think the effect will probably in some areas give ISIS some more propaganda," the senator told host John Dickerson.
"I think the affect [of the latest immigration EOs] will probably, in some areas, give ISIS some more propaganda."… https://t.co/1SiuWWzmeP— Face The Nation (@Face The Nation) 1485705043.0
Later in the afternoon, McCain and Graham outlined their concerns.
The senators called on Trump's order to be revised to allow green-card holders, whom White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the action "of course" impacts, to be allowed into the country and pointed out that the freeze also affects Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who have helped U.S. forces.
"This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security," the statement from McCain and Graham read.
In a Facebook post Sunday, Trump defended his executive action, saying the U.S. "will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave."
"This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order," he continued. "We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days."