Implementing President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration involved an inner-office power struggle between Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and White House senior adviser Stephen Bannon, The Washington Post reported.
Kelly favored a waiver for green card holders but last Saturday night, while protesters raged at the nation's airports, Bannon went to Kelly's office to order him to cancel the waiver, the Post's Josh Rogin reported.
The retired Marine Corps general, however, told Bannon that his orders come from Trump; as the former Breitbart chief was not part of his chain of command, and refused his orders.
As it turned out, Trump didn't order Kelly to hold off on the order, reports The Post, and it ended up being issued late that Saturday night and announced on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Rogin reports that the two administration officials said that at about 2 a.m. Sunday, a conference call was held with Bannon, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, White House Counsel Donald McGahn, national security adviser Michael Flynn, Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and then Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, to both talk about the confusion on Trump's order and complaints from Cabinet officials who had not been included from the beginning.
A White House official and a Trump administration official told Rogin that Kelly, Mattis and Tillerson were united with their complaints that they had not been consulted and on the green card issue, but Bannon and Miller pushed back.
The officials said that Bannon and Miller both said the order was kept quiet because the Trump administration was still getting its own people in place within the government.
Flynn, meanwhile, sided in part with the three Cabinet officials, the White House source said, arguing that "we are unnecessarily putting these guys in a tough position. If you are going to ignore them, you have to at least give them a chance to say their piece.”
Later on Sunday, Trump participated in a larger staff meeting with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Jared Kushner, at which time Trump decided to put other would-be executive orders on pause until such orders could include the input of people outside the West Wing. Trump ended the pause on Friday with an executive order and a memorandum on regulatory reforms.
On Tuesday, Kelly said in a press conference Trump's order was not a ban on Muslims, but instead a matter of "national security," and his department would implement the matter humanely. Further, he denied that he did not know the order was coming.
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