President Trump’s top spokesman on Tuesday said his executive order blocking entry of refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries is not a “travel ban,” even though the president himself called it a “ban.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer blamed the media for casting the controversial policy as a “travel ban.”
“It's not a Muslim ban. It's not a travel ban,” Spicer told reporters. “It's a vetting system to keep America safe.”
Spicer’s comments drew a flurry of questions from reporters, who pointed to a number of instances in which Trump called it a “ban.”
“If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the ‘bad’ would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad ‘dudes’ out there!” Trump tweeted Monday.
If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the "bad" would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad "dudes" out there!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017
When asked about Trump’s tweet, Spicer responded, “he’s using he words that the media is using.”
“It can’t be a ban if you’re letting a million people in,” he said. “If 325,000 people from another country can come in, that is by nature not a ban. It is extreme vetting.”
The spokesman launched into a broad criticism of media coverage of the order, including reports that top Cabinet officials and lawmakers had not been informed of the final policy ahead of Trump’s Friday announcement.
“With all due respect, I think you have been part of the confusion,” he told reporters.
The order bars from people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya from traveling to the U.S. for at least 90 days. It also suspends refugee admissions from all countries for four months and indefinitely blocks Syrian refugees from entering the country.
Trump has called it a “ban” on more than one occasion.
The president also used the term Saturday when he said he would stick by his new policy despite widespread outcry from critics.
“We’re going to have a very, very strict ban and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years,” he said.
Spicer also called the provision temporarily blocking travel from the seven Middle Eastern and African nations a “90-day ban” during a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
Updated at 2:10 p.m.