Trump faces more protests with pick for Supreme Court

US President Donald Trump enters to attend a meeting on cyber security, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, US, on Jan 31, 2017.
US President Donald Trump enters to attend a meeting on cyber security, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, US, on Jan 31, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

Democrats to fight nomination, even as acting A-G is fired for refusing to enforce travel ban

US President Donald Trump is set to nominate a conservative to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat today, a move that the Democratic Party has pledged to fight and will likely draw more protests as the highest federal court leans to the right. 

Protests have persisted in a dozen cities in the United States and overseas against his ban on refugees and visas for people from seven countries deemed potential sources of terrorists. 

But the weekend's drama, including a federal court order staying implementation of parts of the ban, came to a head on Monday when acting US attorney-general Sally Yates - a Barack Obama appointee - ordered Justice Department lawyers not to enforce the order, saying it may not be legal.

Within hours, Mr Trump fired her and swore in Mr Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. His pick for attorney-general, Senator Jeff Sessions, has not been confirmed by the Senate. 

Yesterday, Mr Trump characteristically took to Twitter to reach his supporters directly, slamming the Democrats for delaying confirmation hearings. "When will the Democrats give us our Attorney-General and rest of Cabinet! They should be ashamed of themselves! No wonder D.C. doesn't work!" he tweeted.

He also replaced the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, with Mr Thomas Homan, who was associate director of Enforcement and Removal Operations and has been leading efforts to arrest and remove illegal aliens.

The appointment could mean Mr Trump will move swiftly on a campaign promise to step up deportations of illegal immigrants, estimated to number around 11 million.

But it was Ms Yates' public defiance and her dismissal that grabbed attention.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said in a tweet that the attorney-general "should pledge fidelity to the law and the Constitution, not the White House. The fact that this administration doesn't understand that is chilling".

Dozens of US diplomats have also signed a "dissent cable" arguing that the ban will deepen security threats. In a warning, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said those who disagreed with the President should "either get with the programme or they can go".

In Singapore, US Embassy spokesman Camille Dawson told The Straits Times that the US government was "committed to facilitating legitimate travel for international visitors while ensuring the security of US borders".

"The suspension provided for in the Executive Order does not include Singapore, and the US Embassy in Singapore continues to welcome and encourage Singaporeans' travel and study in the United States."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'Trump faces more protests with pick for Supreme Court'. Print Edition | Subscribe