President Trump's declaration that he will end birthright citizenship by executive order apparently came in spite of warnings from his own White House counsel's office.
The office that advises the president on legal issues had told Trump that he probably does not have the authority to end birthright citizenship by executive order, Politico reported Wednesday.
Trump told Axios that he discussed the idea with his White House counsel, claiming that unspecified people had told him he doesn't need Congress to end the guarantee that any child born in the U.S. is granted citizenship. Because this is a right protected by the 14th Amendment, conservatives who favor changing the law have generally proposed a constitutional amendment.
Trump's surprise declaration apparently caught administration officials by surprise. They didn't expect the president to discuss this route because it wasn't actually being seriously considered by the White House counsel's office; instead, the executive order idea was just one of a number of immigration proposals the office was looking at, Politico reports. Aside from the legal problems, some were just concerned about Trump wading into controversial waters with this idea, including former White House strategist Stephen Bannon of all people.
But now, it sounds like the White House is already giving Trump an out for not actually going through with an executive order — Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that the president is "looking at all options."