Language referring to a "Muslim ban" disappeared from President Donald Trump's campaign website just minutes after a journalist asked about it during Monday's White House press briefing, The Independent reported.
ABC News' Cecilia Vega asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer why the campaign website still contained a December 2015 statement calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The White House has repeatedly denied that Trump's executive order to halt travel from six Muslim-majority countries is a "Muslim ban," although Trump had read the statement aloud on the campaign trail and called for a "Muslim registry."
“I'm not aware of what's on the campaign website," replied Spicer. "You'd have to ask them."
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It appears that someone immediately asked somebody something about the statement, because minutes after Vega's question, the statement was no longer on the website. But the Internet Wayback Machine archives showed it was live on the site earlier that morning.
Minutes after we asked the WH why the President's campaign website still called for a Muslim ban, it appears the statement was deleted. pic.twitter.com/1VzefJuoQF— Cecilia Vega (@CeciliaVega) May 8, 2017
Two of Trump's executive orders prohibiting travel from the region have been blocked by U.S. courts on the grounds that they were unconstitutional.
Yesterday, former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates testified before a Senate committee that she ordered the Justice Department not to defend Trump's initial executive order banning travel because it was unlawful. She obliquely referenced Trump's statements about a Muslim ban and "Muslim registry" in her reasoning for doing so: "In this particular instance, particularly where we were talking about a fundamental issue of religious freedom — not the interpretation of some arcane statute, but religious freedom — it was appropriate for us to look at the intent behind the president's actions, and the intent is laid out in his statements," she said.
The topic also provided what was arguably the hearing's most viral moment, when Sen. Ted Cruz questioned the propriety of Yates's decision, reading a statute he said justified the president's actions. Yates then clapped back with a later statute that clarified the previous statute. Somewhat improbably, Facebook was flooded with videos and GIFs of the exchange: