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White House, Trump issue conflicting statements on next steps for travel ban

(AP Photo)

Conflicting reports surfaced Friday regarding the next legal steps for a controversial executive order that banned travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and was blocked by a federal appellate court.

President Donald Trump told pool reporters the White House is “considering filing a brand new order,” while White House Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus said officials are considering taking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, which upheld a stay on the travel ban Thursday, to the Supreme Court.

A White House official initially suggested the administration would not ask the Supreme Court to overturn that order. But Priebus scrambled to clarify to reporters that “every single court option is on the table,” including a high court appeal or “fighting out this case on the merits” in a lower court.

Trump remained confident that his order could hold up in court, telling pool reporters aboard Air Force One he expected his administration to win the legal battle over his original directive.

But he said the White House was also weighing other alternatives, including making unspecified changes to the order, which could address some of the legal issues that have arisen.

The current executive order barred citizens from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days.

The order sparked protests nationwide, including at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, after reports surfaced of American citizens being detained in international airports for hours.

The president has cast the order as crucial for national security.

Earlier Friday, he promised to take action “very rapidly” to protect the U.S. and its citizens in the wake of the appeals court decision, but he did not specify what steps he planned to take.

“We’ll be doing things to continue to make our country safe,” Trump pledged at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “It will happen rapidly. We will not allow people into our country who are looking to do harm to our people.”

The 9th Circuit ruling made by a panel of three judges represented a significant setback for Trump in just his third week in office.

The appellate decision brushed aside arguments by the Justice Department that the president has the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States and that the courts cannot second-guess his determination that such a step was needed to prevent terrorism.

Trump told pool reporters Friday that a new executive order on immigration could be issued as early as next week, according to CBS Evening News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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