Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin (D) slammed U.S. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSuspended Alabama judge running for Senate Trump and Sessions peddle fear instead of solutions to crime Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general MORE in a statement Thursday, saying his remark about a federal judge in the state was dismissive.
“President Trump previously called a federal judge in California a so-called judge. Now U.S. Attorney General Sessions appears to dismiss a federal judge in Hawaii as just a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific.”
During an interview this week with conservative radio show host Mark Levin, Sessions expressed amazement that a Hawaii-based judge could halt Trump's executive order on immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries.
CNN's "K-File" highlighted the interview, which quickly spread online.
A Justice Department spokesman later clarified Sessions's earlier comment.
"Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the Attorney General's granddaughter was born," Justice Department spokesperson Ian Prior told CNN. "The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the President's lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe.”
Chin, adding to criticism from Hawaii's senators, said Sessions does not acknowledge the important rule of the judiciary.
“Our Constitution created a separation of powers in the United States for a reason. Our federal courts, established under article III of the Constitution, are co-equal partners with Congress and the President. It is disappointing [Attorney General] Sessions does not acknowledge that,” Chin continued.
Judge Derrick Watson, a federal judge based in Hawaii, issued an order to halt the president’s travel ban nationwide last month.
The Justice Department is in the process of appealing Watson’s decision.