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Court Requests And Orders In A Busy Weekend In Politics


Refugees and residents of seven predominantly Muslim countries once again have a green light to travel to the United States, at least for now. That's after a federal judge in Washington state put a hold on President Trump's temporary travel ban. The judge's order triggered an angry tweet-storm from the president. We'll hear more about that in a moment. Trump is spending this weekend at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., after two very busy weeks in the White House.

NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now to recap the latest political news. And there is a lot of it, right, Scott?

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: (Laughter) Yes, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's start with that court battle over the president's travel ban. Where do things stand?

HORSLEY: Overnight, the administration asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to immediately reverse the judge's order. That request was denied. Instead, the appeals court directed both the government and opponents of the travel ban to file more arguments. And it gave them a deadline of Monday afternoon, West Coast time. So it looks as though for at least the next couple of days, the door will stay open to refugees and travelers from those seven largely Muslim countries. Given the unpredictability, you might see a rush to get in before that window closes.

The State Department cleared the way for holders of valid visas to enter the U.S., and it's directed a United Nations agency to resume booking travel for refugees. This is a setback for the administration and a victory for opponents. But in speaking to reporters in Palm Beach last night, the president said he's confident the ban will eventually be reinstated. He said, for the safety of the country, we'll win.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He was talking to reporters at a Red Cross gala, right?

HORSLEY: Just outside a Red Cross gala where the theme was From Venice to Versailles. And it was an odd juxtaposition of talking about refugees and travelers while all these folks in fancy ball gowns and entertainers dressed up like Marie Antoinette.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The temporary travel ban issued just over a week ago has made a lot of headlines. But it's just one of many things the president has been doing during his first two weeks in the White House. He's setting a dizzying pace.

HORSLEY: You know, Lulu, there's a famous story that Donald Trump tells on himself in his first book, "The Art Of The Deal," about how when he was trying to woo a potential investor for one of his casino projects, he told his construction manager to put on a show. You know, he hired a bunch of bulldozers and dump trucks and put them to work moving dirt around the construction site. Trump said it didn't matter what the bulldozers did as long as they did a lot of it.

And there's been an element of that in what we've seen at the White House these last couple of weeks. You know, Trump's held a lot of meetings. He's issued a ton of memos and executive orders. Some, like the travel ban, do have far-reaching effects. Some, though, are more like those bulldozers, just kind of moving the dirt around so people watching on cable television see the new president in action.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And he has been in action, specifically, though, on one very important thing, which is Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

HORSLEY: Yes. Unlike the rollout of the travel ban, the rollout of the Supreme Court nomination went about as smoothly as the White House could have hoped. Neil Gorsuch was introduced with a primetime address. Trump, the showman, kept the audience in suspense right up to the last minute. And the social conservatives, who backed Trump in the election largely because of the Supreme Court, got just the kind of nominee they were looking for - someone very much in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Democrats are gearing up for a bitter battle, but it's going to be tough for them to oppose Gorsuch because he got broad bipartisan support in his current job on the federal appeals court in Colorado.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to turn to the new jobs report. That was better than many analysts had expected. It's interesting because during the campaign, Trump was often skeptical of good jobs numbers. Now he's in the White House. He seems to have changed his tune.

HORSLEY: Yes. In his weekly address, Trump cheered the Labor Department report. While in the campaign, he often poured cold water on those numbers, suggesting that the real unemployment rate is higher than the government statistics show. We should keep in mind this is actually a snapshot of the last days of the Obama administration, not the first days of the Trump administration. But it's clear Trump is inheriting a much stronger economy than his predecessor.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Scott Horsley, NPR's White House correspondent, thanks so much.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.