While President Trump's executive order on Friday that keeps travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States came as a surprise to Republican leaders, a small group of senior House Judiciary Committee staffers were aware of it, having helped draft it in the weeks before Trump's inauguration, Politico reports.
An unnamed aide told Politico that Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) was not consulted by the administration on the executive order, and several other people with knowledge of the matter said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) only saw the order's final language when reporters received it Friday night. It's "extremely rare" for administration officials to go around Republican leadership and work directly with congressional committee aides, Politico reports.
While staffers offered their expertise on immigration law, "the Trump administration is responsible for the final policy decisions contained in the executive order and its subsequent rollout and implementation," an unnamed aide said. Politico was told by several people that the staffers who helped with the order signed nondisclosure agreements, an unusual move for congressional employees, and had the GOP leaders had the opportunity to look at the order before it was signed, they would have been able to point out its problems, like denying entry to green card holders. The order was purposely kept under wraps, Politico reports, with the rollout coordinated mostly by Stephen Miller, White House policy director, and senior strategist Stephen Bannon. Read more about the blindsiding of GOP leaders and how they reacted at Politico.