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It’s official: Trump says he'll replace his travel ban with a new one

And a federal court filing backs him up.

Trump signs Executive Orders Photo by Aude Guerrucci - Pool/Getty Images

The first thing President Donald Trump repeals and replaces is going to be his own executive order on immigration.

Both Trump, in a press conference, and the Department of Justice, in a court filing, said Thursday that the president is abandoning the order he signed January 27, banning all visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries and nearly all refugees from entering the United States.

The ban was only in effect for a week before being put on hold by a federal court — and judges around the country have been less than sympathetic to the administration’s arguments for its constitutionality. President Trump continues to believe the judges’ ruling was “a bad decision.” But he’s buckling to it anyway.

The clearest indication that Trump is actually going to repeal and replace (or rather, “rescind and replace”) the order didn’t come from Trump himself — it came from the DOJ.

In a brief in the ongoing court case in the Ninth Circuit, the DOJ argued that the court should hold off on doing anything for now. “The President intends in the near future,” it promised, “to rescind this Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns.”

Trump himself doesn’t appear to have quite as solid a grasp on the legal proceedings — his remarks at Thursday’s press conference implied that the existing court case would continue even as he issued a new executive order. But he agreed that the replacement order will be coming in the near future — the very near future, in fact:

We are issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country. We will be going along the one path, and hopefully winning that; at the same time, we will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people. That will be done sometime next week, toward the beginning or middle at the latest part.

What “comprehensive” means is entirely unclear. It could mean that the new executive order will include provisions that weren’t included in the original, or that there will be more countries added to the blacklist on the visa ban.

Later, Trump referred to the new executive order in a totally different way: He said it was “tailored” to the “bad decision” made by the courts:

The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider a very bad decision, but we can tailor it to get in some ways more, but tailoring it now to the decision. We have some of the best lawyers in the country working on it and the new executive order is being tailored from the decision we got down from the court, okay?

So what is it? Comprehensive? Tailored? Substantially revised? Who knows. The Trump administration is obviously in an untenable position. It’s extremely difficult to fix a problem when you say there is no problem. Not only does it sound dishonest, but it makes it harder to know whether whatever remedy you’re taking is actually going to fix the problem as other people see it.

Even people who believe the executive order was constitutional criticized the government’s rollout of it. The president’s own secretary of homeland security took the fall before Congress, saying he should have delayed its implementation to give the government more time to process it. But President Trump, on Thursday, said that “the travel ban rollout was perfectly smooth.” This raises a question: How can you repeal and replace — or rescind and revise — when you aren’t sure anything was wrong in the first place?