(CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday he was not disrespecting Hawaii or a judge in the state when he said he was “amazed” that the official was able to block President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban halting immigration from several majority Muslim countries.
“I wasn’t criticizing the judge or the island,” he told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour.” “I think it’s a fabulous place and had a granddaughter born there.”
“But I got to tell you — it’s a point worth making that a single sitting judge out of 600, 700 district judges can issue an order stopping a presidential executive order that I believe is fully constitutional, designed to protect the United States of America from terrorist attacks.”
He added, “I was just raising the point of that issue of a single judge taking such a dramatic action and the impact it can have.”
Sessions told “The Mark Levin Show” earlier this week that he was “amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.”
The attorney general’s statement, which was first flagged by CNN’s KFile
, garnered widespread criticism, including from Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, who tweeted: “Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences- including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous.”
Despite the criticism, Sessions said he would not word his comment differently.
“I don’t know that I said anything I would want to phrase differently,” he said Friday. “We’re going to defend the presidential order. We believe it’s constitutional. We believe there is specific statutory authority for everything in that order that he did.”
“It only delayed six nations who have had real terrorists connections for 90 days in the immigration process,” Sessions added.
Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are touring the southern border and met with law enforcement personnel from several federal agencies.
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