The Trumpstad Report: #MuslimBan [Updated]

Plus a look at where GOP members of Iowa's congressional delegation stand

Trump hair: Lorie Shaull/Noun Project, mustache: Aldric Rodríguez Iborra/Noun Project

Part of a series on the ties that bind Iowa’s governor and the president.

Update, 1/30: According to the Des Moines Register, Branstad’s support for Trump’s executive order was not as qualified as the AP made it out to be. “I support the actions of the president to protect the citizens of America from the threats from these countries that do not have stable governments,” Branstad said. “We have always been an open and welcoming country, but we want to make sure that our citizens are protected.”

Original post: Outgoing Gov. Terry Branstad, who is set to become US ambassador to China later this year, on Monday told reporters he wouldn’t “second guess” President Trump’s executive order to instate a travel ban against refugees as well as the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries where Trump has no business interests and whose citizens have not been responsible for a single American death on US soil since 1975.

According to a brief from the Associated Press, Branstad refused to say outright whether or not he supports the ban, which Trump signed with virtually no review from the Department of Homeland Security and other executive branch agencies, and which top Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller insisted include legal permanent residents with green cards. But Branstad’s deference to Trump over the hastily written and largely arbitrary executive order, which caused international outrage and protests in airports across the US, is essentially a show of support from a governor who almost always refused to condemn Trump’s outrageous rhetoric throughout his campaign.

Sen. Chuck Grassley also appears to support the travel ban. According to the Washington Post, which is compiling a list of congressional Republicans and their stances on the executive order, his position is “unclear.” But Grassley offered no real criticism, saying, “The goals of the executive order are commendable, and something President Trump promised during the campaign, but implementation will be key to ensuring the bad guys are kept out while remaining a welcoming nation to people of all backgrounds and religions.” As Iowa Starting Line pointed out, Grassley’s stance on Trump’s executive order is a seemingly hypocritical departure from orders Obama signed to defer the deportations of 5 million undocumented immigrants and protect DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants who moved to the US as children. Then, Grassley tweeted that Obama was “flagrantly violating his oath [with] threats to do immigration by fiat” and “getting dangerous[ly] close to assuming a Nixonian posture,” and that his executive orders were “unconstitutional.”

In the House, Iowa Congressman Rod Blum also spoke approvingly of the ban: “The bottom line is they can’t properly vet people coming from war-torn areas like Syria and Iraq. If we can’t vet people properly, then we shouldn’t be allowing them into our country. I’m supportive of that.”

Sen. Joni Ernst expressed more skepticism of the ban, the Post reported, saying there needed to “be more clarity surrounding the order’s implementation.” She added, “In our efforts to protect our nation from ISIS, we also must ensure we are not inadvertently penalizing our allies in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism — especially those who have supported US military efforts in Iraq.”

Congressmen Steve King and David Young have yet to comment on the executive order, according to the Post. However, it’s probably safe to assume King is supportive, considering his long history of disparaging remarks about immigrants and far-right nationalistic political views.

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.