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GOP chairman defends staff who helped draft Trump travel order

GOP chairman defends staff who helped draft Trump travel order
© Greg Nash

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteNo documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself USCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction MORE (R-Va.) on Tuesday defended staffers on his committee who are under fire for helping the White House draft an executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority nations without GOP leadership’s knowledge.

The chairman also sought to clear up some confusion about his staffers’ participation, stating that he “proudly allowed” them to assist Trump.

“My staff on the House Judiciary Committee are some of the best on Capitol Hill. They are experts in their respective fields and I proudly allowed them to provide their expertise to the Trump transition team on immigration law,” Goodlatte said in a statement Tuesday. 

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“To be clear, while they gave advice to the new Administration, they did not have decision making authority on the policy. The final decision was made at the highest levels of the Trump Administration, and I support the President’s executive order.”

Goodlatte went on to say that his staff had “no control of the language contained in the President’s executive order, the timing of the announcement, the rollout and subsequent implementation, and the coordination with Congress.”

Similarly, The Hill reported Monday night that a committee aide to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) worked as a “legislative coordinator” on a Trump transition team that was involved in writing a draft executive order. But the committee aide did not help write the final order, and Grassley’s committee did not see the text before Friday’s rollout.

Goodlatte’s statement comes amid frustration from leadership and some rank-and-file Republicans that President Trump’s team failed to give them a heads up that the executive order was coming. Some GOP sources close to leadership also are questioning why Goodlatte did not inform Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.) and his top lieutenants that committee staff members were aiding Trump with an immigration-related order.

Many Republicans say better communication and coordination between the White House and the Hill could have helped Trump avoid the chaotic rollout of the ban, which temporarily stranded hundreds of U.S. permanent residents with green cards and sparked mass protests at airports around the country.

Trump's executive order bans for 90 days people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia from entering the U.S. It also suspends the country's refugee resettlement program for 120 days and indefinitely suspends resettlement for refugees from Syria.