- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2017

BALTIMORE, Md. — House Democrats on Friday heralded a federal appeals court’s ruling against President Trump’s “extreme vetting” order and highlighted conspiracy theories suggesting the administration has given the green light to recent immigration raids in California in an attempt take attention away from its legal setbacks.

“The court ruling indicated once again that what the president did was unconstitutional and in my view indeed immoral,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said on the final day of a three-day House Democratic retreat. “It also shows the American people that whatever you may think about the ban, how the president proceeded with this was not only incompetent, but strategically incoherent.”

The ruling was viewed as much-needed moral boost for Democrats, who are hoping to tap into the energy of the grassroots activists that have risen up against Mr. Trump, but have been relegated to minority party status in both chambers of Congress, unable to thwart the president’s agenda on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, cheered “Go 9th Circuit!” and in response to a question said she is still gathering information on the immigration raids that have been carried out in her home state of California and said she understands that about 100 people have been detained.

Ms. Sanchez said skeptics have floated another idea.

“Some have suggested that that perhaps on the heels of a tremendous opinion by the 9th Circuit — which I think upholds the values of this country and makes clear of the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances — that perhaps on the heels of that [ruling] that was done intentionally to try to take attention away from a big loss by the Trump administration on what they want to do,” Ms. Sanchez said.

Ms. Sanchez said she did not ascribe to the theory, but said “the timing of it is quite curious.”

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that federal immigration authorities have made a series of arrests this week in southern California, sparking protests. The newspaper also reported that immigration officials said the raids were routine.

Piggy-backing on Ms. Sanchez’s comments, Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Mr. Trump has shown that his modus operandi is to create distractions when the going gets tough.

“The timing is interesting to say the least,” he said. “But I want to say this as well. I don’t think Linda, nor I, nor any Democratic member of the House or Senate, or just about anyone in the United States, would defend anyone who is being deported because they have violated the law in a felony form or pose a threat to our nation.”

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a temporary restraining order against Mr. Trump’s “extreme vetting” executive order. In the unanimous ruling, the three judges said that keeping policy on hold so that the courts can further sort it out will not hurt the federal government.

Closing on their retreat on Friday, House Democrats said the gathering has moved them closer to plotting out a course forward following the disappointing 2016 election where they had hoped to take over the House, but instead picked up a net of only six seats.

Democrats made it clear that they still believe they have the right policies, but that they failed to deliver a clear message to voters in the election, opening the door for Mr. Trump to hoodwink working-class voters into thinking he will fight for them

They also said they are likely to put a greater emphasis on Russia — including Mr. Trump’s personal, political and financial ties to the country.

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