Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being criticized for his comments that seemed to deride the state of Hawaii for being the source of the federal judge ruling that stopped President Donald Trump's travel ban from going into effect.
The comments by Sessions were made while appearing on the Mark Levin show, in an exchange publicized by Andrew Kaczynski of CNN:
We are confident that the president will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzer to castigate the attorney general for the comments on Thursday.
"This is the same president that accuse a Latino-American judge of not being sufficiently American," Gallego charged. "He's taken a cue from the president who said that President Barack Obama was probably not born in the United States, and created a dog whistle campaign to basically try to convince people, and he at least convinced some voters that the president was not born here."
Gallego referred to a similar criticism from Trump against Judge Gonzalo Curiel for ordering against him in the trial over Trump University. Trump appeared to imply that the judge was unable to do his job fairly because he was of Mexican descent, although he was born and raised in Indiana.
"Why are we surprised that Jeff Sessions was also selected to be part of this administration?" Gallego asked. "They all think one and the same. It is not just dog whistle politics, it is outright insensitive and anti-American to say that somehow Hawaii is not part of the United States."
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) April 20, 2017
Aaron Blake of the Washington Post penned a scathing criticism of Sessions' remarks:
The first is that Hawaii is a state and has been since 1959. Dismissing it as “an island in the Pacific” is the kind of thing that will earn you the pleasure of apologizing to an entire state. We'll start the countdown clock.
The second is that the judge isn't a Hawaiian judge, per se. Derrick Watson is actually a federal judge who happens to serve on a district court in Hawaii. And in case you were wondering, he has some of that all-important mainland experience and perspective, having worked as a lawyer in San Francisco.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D=Hawaii) took to Twitter to respond to the seeming insult to her state, calling it "ignorant" and "dangerous."