This was a hallmark week for the Trump administration—one of the president’s top counselors appeared, by every measure, to violate a federal ethics law. Two federal courts slapped down President Trump’s travel ban. And behind the scenes, the White House churned out another stream of executive orders and presidential statements with alarming implications for the unemployed and people who might find themselves resisting arrest, among others.
Here’s the big things that mattered this week.
Fought for the travel ban in court—and lost. Last Friday, a federal judge in Washington state put a nationwide halt on Trump’s travel ban. The administration immediately appealed the ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. A three-judge panel heard arguments Tuesday, and Thursday rejected the administration appeal, keeping the ban from being enforced.
Trump issued a series of tweets blasting the courts, and labeled the Washington judge a “so-called judge.” This attack on the judiciary alarmed many experts who felt it was an attack on the fundamental system of checks and balances.
Signed three tough-on-crime executive orders (that don’t do much). On Thursday morning, without any advance notice to the press, Trump signed three executive orders on crime—one that promises a crackdown on transnational drug gangs, one that aims to heighten penalties for crimes against police officers, and an order that creates a task force on reducing crime. The three orders, to put it bluntly, don’t really do anything. They instruct federal agencies to enforce existing laws, share more intelligence information, and plot various studies and commissions about crime. The most ominous thing in the orders: expressing a desire for nationwide legislation to toughen penalties for crimes against law enforcement, similar to Louisiana’s “Blue Lives Matter” legislation. There are already strict penalties for attacking officers, and the Louisiana bill broadens them to the point of making resisting arrest a felony offense. National legislation to this effect would be a disaster, but the executive order does nothing more than signal an intent to pursue it at some point in the future.