The Memo: Bannon says court win vindicates Trump

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE’s former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, celebrated the Supreme Court decision upholding the administration’s travel ban on Tuesday, telling The Hill that it “is going to reinforce [Trump’s] belief in his own judgement against the naysayers.”

Bannon was one of the prime advocates of the original version of the travel ban, which was blocked by the courts. He insisted that protests against the policy — as well as the ferocity of the anti-Trump “resistance” in general — only fueled the president’s popularity among his base. 

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The opposition to the travel ban was “way over the top,” Bannon argued. More broadly, he said, media and liberal criticism of Trump “reinforces to Middle America that the opposition to Trump is unhinged.” 

Bannon’s comments will fuel the ire of Trump’s detractors, as well as those who accuse the former strategist and Breitbart executive of contributing to the toxic political atmosphere.

Liberal politicians lined up to condemn the Supreme Court decision. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE (I-Vt.) said the court had “sided with fear, racism and xenophobia.” Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonJudge threatens to put prison officials in same uncooled cells as inmates Minnesota students file federal lawsuit against school district alleging 'deliberate indifference' to racist incidents Former Sanders aides launch consulting firm MORE (D-Minn.), one of only two Muslims serving in Congress, said it “gives legitimacy to discrimination and Islamophobia.”

The decision is one more example of Trump leaving his mark on the nation, for good or for ill.

The president has pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord. 

He has attacked the Department of Justice and FBI in ways that would have seemed unthinkable under any previous president. 

And, even though he reversed course on child separations amid a political firestorm last week, he has pushed for a much more hard-line approach to immigration in general.

Meanwhile, blame is being swapped on all sides for a perceived loss of civility in public life.

Trump argued in a statement on Tuesday that the Supreme Court decision was “a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”

The decision was a notable victory for Trump after the child separations furor disrupted one of the more politically favorable stretches of his presidency — one that incorporated consistently good economic data, a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and improving poll numbers.

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the travel ban that was based, in large part, on the idea that the president’s incendiary rhetoric about Muslims during his 2016 campaign was evidence of religious animus.

As a candidate, Trump called in December 2015 for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

The original version of the travel ban, announced in January 2017, targeted only majority-Muslim nations. The version upheld by the Supreme Court on Tuesday restricts travel from seven nations, of which five are majority-Muslim: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. North Korea and Venezuela are also on the list.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority on Tuesday, stated that Trump’s order “is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted.” 

Roberts added, “The text says nothing about religion.”

Dissenting, Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that Trump had never disavowed his earlier statements about Muslims. The lawyers representing his administration had “failed in their attempts to launder the Proclamation of its discriminatory taint,” Sotomayor wrote.  

The case was decided by the tightest possible margin, 5-4.

Stalwart defenders of the president joined Bannon in celebration about the decision. Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots saw the verdict as a vindication of conservative backing for Trump in the 2016 election.

“President Trump is leaving his mark in the policy realm because the voters worked so hard to make sure Trump was able to leave a mark on the Supreme Court,” she told The Hill.

Critics, though, see a president who has transgressed the nation’s norms in ruinous ways. Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching MORE (D-Calif.), who has often called for Trump’s impeachment, sparked further controversy in recent days when she suggested that people should “harass” administration officials.

Those comments came on Saturday, the day after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had been refused service at a Virginia restaurant.

The mere fact that Trump has followed through on many of his campaign promises is one of the reasons why opinions of him remain as intense — both positive and negative — as ever, experts say.

“He was a polarizing candidate and he remains just as polarizing as when he ran,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “He has not made any effort to really ease those divisions and his following-through on the most polarizing parts of his campaign makes it impossible for him to find any common ground.”

Trump’s backers, like Bannon, welcome precisely that confrontational approach, however.

“Whether Korea, China, trade, the border, ISIS, Iran or terrorists coming into the country — President Trump rejects the establishment’s method of managing a process to unacceptable outcomes,” Bannon said. “This is why he won, this is why he is going to continue to win, and this is why he is becoming a historic figure. He is standing in the breach and saying, ‘It stops here and it stops with me.’ ”

Trump, Bannon insisted, “has changed the country for the better.”

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump’s presidency.