Republicans who attacked Donald Trump's Muslim ban now have nothing to say

Republicans who attacked Donald Trump's Muslim ban now have nothing to say
Source: AP
Source: AP

President Donald Trump capped off a frenetic week of executive orders by issuing a 120-day ban on all refugee admissions to the U.S. and denying entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

Though the proposal did not specifically name the Islamic religion, its intent was clear: to work towards fulfilling a campaign pledge to ban Muslims from entering the country. 

When Trump made that promise during the presidential race, many Republicans came out against it. Now, however, top Republican leaders who once condemned that pledge have near-universally either praised his decision or stuck their heads in the sand.

As Trump's order goes into action, here's a who's who of influential Republicans who are not doing anything to stop it.

Paul Ryan

In July 2016, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued a statement saying "America's greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it. As I have said on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it."


However, on Friday, Ryan supported Trump's order, according to CNN, citing "our number one responsibility is to protect the homeland ... President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country."

Mitch McConnell

In December 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the proposal "completely inconsistent with American values," adding that it would be "completely and totally unworkable," CNN reporte. McConnell went on to note that "King Abdullah of Jordan, a great friend and ally of ours, would presumably not be able to come to the United States. How about President Ghani of Afghanistan, a great friend and ally of ours who would not be able to come to the United States."

McConnell has remained silent on the topic since the order.

Mike Pence and James Mattis


Vice President Mike Pence tweeted "calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional" while he was governor of Indiana in Dec. 2015.

Trump's pick for secretary of defense, James Mattis, said Trump's proposal could cause "great damage" to the U.S.' relationship with its Middle Eastern allies, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But as the Washington Post noted, both men personally attended as Trump signed the order this week; Mattis "took the order and grinned while Pence started clapping."

Reince Priebus

"We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values," White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told the Washington Examiner while he was still working for the Republican National Committee in December 2015.

But by November 2016, Priebus was singing a different tune, expressing support for the revised policy not mentioning Islam by name which Trump ended up issuing this week.

Michael McCaul

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, said a ban on Muslims would be unconstitutional last December: "We were founded upon freedom of religion, this country is protected by the Constitution, so I would argue that there are questions regarding the constitution — which is our first obligation."

"They take things like this and then they spin it to their advantage to inflame the Muslim world to get more recruits to join the cause," McCaul added.

But on Friday, McCaul issued a statement reading, "Today, President Trump signed an order to help prevent jihadists from infiltrating the United States. With the stroke of a pen, he is doing more to shut down terrorist pathways into this country than the last administration did in eight years."

John Kasich

"Some people say what we ought to do is ban all Muslims from coming into the country, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said on the campaign trail in March 2016. "'Are you Catholic, or are you Muslim?' How do you do that?"

Kasich had changed his position by this week, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

"I think it makes good sense for us to review our immigration policy here in the United States," Kasich said. "We have a big chunk of people who come in here, they are supposed to leave; they don't. It's important that we know who the people are that are coming in that they're properly vetted. I just think that makes perfect sense."

Top GOP senators

BuzzFeed reported Sens. John McCain, Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham all criticized the original proposal but have not yet commented on Trump's executive order.

Glenn Thrush, the New York Times' White House correspondent, tweeted "GOP congressional Twitter feeds" hadn't been "this silent since the last positive jobs report under Obama."

However, some Republican critics of the executive order have emerged, the Washington Post reported — including Reps. Charlie Dent and Justin Amash, Sens. Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake and former presidential candidate Evan McMullin. 

Dent cited an incident in which six family members who had purchased a home in Pennsylvania were turned back after arriving on a Qatar Airways flight.

"This family was sent home despite having all their paperwork in order," Dent said. "So this 90-day ban could imperil the lives of this family and potentially others, and it's unacceptable, and I urge the administration to halt enforcement of this order until a more thoughtful and deliberate policy can be reinstated."