George W. Bush On Trump's Muslim Ban: Veiled Criticism Invokes Constitutionality

It would appear that former President George W. Bush is not quite in agreement with new president Donald Trump on a few issues, like his ongoing treatment of the media as an "enemy of the people" and his executive order for a travel ban that targeted Muslims. He went on NBC's Today show Monday to promote his new book on American military veterans, Portraits of Courage, and, at the prompting of Matt Lauer, imparted a few of his views of the nascent Trump presidency. And the ex-president, who had his own troubles with an adversarial free press and a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment while in office, seemed to base his critical remarks around the Constitution.

Today's Matt Lauer, after the video clip of then-President Bush, in a national address, calling for tolerance in America of Muslims and their religious views just after the terrorist attacks on September 11, noted that the presidency of Donald Trump has taken a far different tone with immigration, and Muslims in particular. Asked what he thought of the travel ban on Muslims inveighed by a Trump executive order just days after his inauguration, former President Bush hinted that the Trump administration was ignoring a constitutional imperative.

"It's very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or not worship at all. A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely."
Bush said that terrorism was about ideology, not religion, and characterized Trump's executive order travel ban as a "retreat" in combating terrorism.

When asked what type of immigration policy he would support, former President Bush, who attempted to lead major reform in American immigration policy during his time in office, said, "I am for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law."

President Trump's executive order (13769), which was signed on January 27, imposed limits on travel to the United States from certain countries and denied entry to all refugees into the U.S. It met with considerable resistance and condemnation from both conservative and liberal parties -- not to mention humanitarian organizations, businesses, and members of the international community, including the United Nations -- due to its wording and targeting of countries whose populations were predominantly Muslim. The executive order was found unconstitutional on February 3, a decision that was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 9. The Trump administration, which claimed that the order was meant to be a deterrent to terrorists and not single out Muslims, has vowed to either redraft the order or draft a separate order that addresses the original order's stipulated unconstitutionality and/or legality.

President George W. Bush in Iraq press conference
President Trump wasn't the only president with problems with the press. President George W. Bush is seen here at an Iraq press conference on December 14, 2008, just moments before an angry Iraqi correspondent threw a shoe at him. [

Matt Lauer also asked the former president his thoughts on Trump's ongoing war with the media, where the new president recently referred to the press as the "enemy of the people." Bush was no stranger to an adversarial and sometimes seemingly hostile press in his eight years in the White House, but he said he found the press "indispensable to democracy."

"I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy, that we need an independent media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive, and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."
President Donald Trump looking annoyed
President Donald Trump and his administration have taken the combative stance toward the media that they employed during the presidential campaign. [Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]

Although President Trump had a combative relationship with the media throughout his campaign, it seemed to only get worse when he took office. On Friday (February 24), as was reported by the Inquisitr, the White House barred certain news organizations from a press briefing, an act that was condemned not only by those organizations (like The New York Times, CNN, Politico, and The Guardian, among others) but by news outlets and networks around the world. The unexpected and unprecedented act came a day after the president spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he again castigated the press in general, complaining about what he saw as unfair treatment by certain media outlets. The president spoke a day after one of his key advisors, Steve Bannon, told a CPAC audience that Trump would pursue his agenda despite the coverage, but things were about to get worse.

The former president, whose brother, Jeb, ran as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president against Donald Trump and was the object of numerous personal attacks from the businessman, did not offer much support for the new presidency other than to say that it had only been a month and Trump might become the uniter he has said he would be as president. Still, when Lauer asked about the Russian interference in the elections and whether or not the Trump administration had been involved with Russian operatives (stories of which are the current basis for Trump's accusations of "fake news"), whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate, Bush joked that he was the wrong person to ask, he wasn't a lawyer.

But, former President Bush said, "We all need answers."

[Featured Image by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images]