Trump Ordered to Turn Over Giuliani Memo in Travel Ban Suit

May 11, 2017, 7:39 PM EDT May 11, 2017, 8:24 PM EDT
  • Ex-NYC mayor advised how to make ‘Muslim ban’ more palatable
  • Detroit judge says religious bias in order is ‘unmistakable’

The Trump Administration was ordered by a federal judge to disclose a memo drafted under the guidance of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that allegedly served as an outline to make the president’s travel ban look like it wasn’t aimed at Muslims.

While running for president, Donald Trump asked Giuliani to form a commission that would help draft a “Muslim ban” to “show [him] the right way to do it legally” after his initial proposal drew widespread public condemnation, according to a court filing by the Arab American Civil Rights League. The commission then recommended that “nationality be used as a proxy for religion,” the group said in the filing.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts in Detroit on Thursday directed the president to produce the document by May 19.

The order comes four days before Trump’s attorneys are slated to defend his revised travel ban in a federal appeals court against claims that it was drafted with discriminatory intent toward Muslims. While the tweaks in the president’s March 6 order were tailored to address objections from judges, including stripping it of all religious references, a Honolulu federal judge blocked it from taking effect after concluding it “was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.”

One issue up for debate when the three-judge appeals court hears arguments in Seattle on May 15 is whether public comments made by Trump before his inauguration are pertinent to evaluating the legality of the executive order, or whether the review must be limited to the contents of the document itself.

Nicole Navas, spokeswoman for the Justice Department, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the Giuliani memo.

In Thursday’s order, Roberts said she could see no reason to delay ordering relevant evidence to be shared with the Arab American group in light of the “unmistakable and impermissible message that the United States Government disapproves of Islam and Muslims” in the text and history in the revised ban.

Roberts faulted Trump’s lawyers for trying to dissuade her from considering the Constitution’s prohibition against favoring one religion over another, saying “the government invents a number of novel roadblocks to this court’s review.”

The Detroit case is Arab American Civil Rights League v. Trump, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).