The White House is dismissing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence report rebuffing President Trump’s claims that citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries pose an increased terror threat, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.
“The president asked for an intelligence assessment,” a senior administration official told the Journal. “This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.”
Trump administration officials claim that the report failed to include available evidence that supports the president’s Jan. 27 order barring citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia from entering the U.S.
That executive order was blocked by a federal appeals court earlier this month, and Trump has said he is crafting a new order that can withstand legal muster.
Acting DHS Press Secretary Gillian Christensen also challenged the agency’s report, calling it an “incomplete product.” But she said the administration’s reason for taking issue with it was not political.
“Any suggestion by opponents of the president’s policies that senior [DHS] intelligence officials would politicize this process or a report’s final conclusions is absurd and not factually accurate,” Christensen told the Journal.
“The dispute with this product was over sources and quality, not politics.”
The DHS report came after Trump reportedly asked the department to help bolster his legal case for implementing the controversial travel ban.
But the findings seemed to directly contradict the president’s key argument, saying that an individual’s citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of the threat they pose to the U.S., according to the Associated Press.
As a presidential candidate, Trump took a hardline stance on terrorism by Islamist extremists, and often contended that the U.S. was too willing to allow people from Muslim-majority countries to enter its borders.
But his efforts to implement a travel ban on certain countries was met with sharp criticism by many, who accused it of being a de facto Muslim ban and a violation of religious freedom protections.