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Trump move leads to confusion and chaos between White House, Congress

Posted: 9:42 PM, Jan 30, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-31 06:15:46Z
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Confusion and chaos.
 
It's not the imagery one might expect from a President who promised to bring private sector competency to governing.
 
But in temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspending the Syrian refugee program, President Donald Trump and his team acted more like he did as a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants candidate than an orderly CEO, giving little direction to those expected to interpret and carry out orders that have real world consequences.
 
"You have an extreme vetting proposal that didn't get the vetting it should have had," Republican Sen. Rob Portman told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday's "State of the Union."GOP senator: Trump's travel ban 'wasn't properly vetted'
 
"As the result, in the implementation, we've seen some problems," he added.
 
Problems on policy, and a political quandary for the President's fellow Republicans.
 
Since Trump was elected, congressional Republicans from leadership on down have been preparing to deal with an unconventional President. Many GOP sources say that means picking their battles -- not criticizing every controversial move he makes. But even Republican sources who say they wanted to be supportive of what could have been a popular move aimed at making Americans more safe, say they felt compelled to condemn it because it was handled so poorly.
 
"I think it's a good idea to tighten the vetting process. But I also think it's important to remember that some of our best sources in the war against radical Islamic terrorism are Muslims, both in this country and overseas," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
 
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who tries to be supportive of Trump, said in this case the "executive order has been poorly implemented."
 
He told CNN's Phil Mattingly Monday he found out about the Trump policy move through press reports.
 
"I think they know it could've been done in a better way and my guess is they're going to try and clean it up," Corker said. "They probably learned that communication and the inter agency process would probably be helpful."
 
The White House talking point in the wake of chaos and criticism is that it had to be a close hold.
 
"If we announced this a lot earlier it would have given people plenty of time to flood into the country who planned to do us harm. That's not a sound strategy. The people that needed to be kept in the loop were kept in the loop," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Monday.
 
Yet even the GOP House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul -- who backed the idea in general -- wasn't consulted either.
 
Several high-profile Republicans say the sloppy executive order will actually help recruit potential terrorists.
 
"I think the effect will probably, in some areas, give ISIS some more propaganda," said Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain.
 
One GOP lawmaker concerned about Trump's actions found a silver lining, noting that this is an early signal to worried Americans that checks and balances can work. Five courts temporarily blocked the President's order on travel restrictions, and while Congress hasn't passed legislation, they did voice loud concerns.
 
It is an open question as to whether Trump and his team -- advisers like Steve Bannon who never worked in government -- will learn a hard lesson about governing and all its implications, or whether stirring controversy and doing things differently, is exactly what they think Trump was elected to do.'
 
Rubio: State wouldn't discuss ban
 
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, told reporters that his staff called the State Department earlier Monday, only to have department staff say they were instructed not to answer any questions on the travel ban.
 
"My staff was told the State Department as of today was ordered not to talk to Congress about this issue. I don't know the reason maybe perhaps they're still kind of working through how this is going to apply so perhaps they don't want to give us information that's wrong," Rubio said.
 
The State Department said it will "provide information and assistance as we are able."
 
"The Department remains in contact with Members of Congress who have reached out regarding the Executive Orders, and will continue to provide information and assistance as we are able," said acting spokesman Mark Toner's response."
 
Rubio said the Trump administration needs to find a way to answer questions about the ban and how it is being implemented.
 
"There's no doubt they'll have to at least issue a number of clarifications about how it applies," Rubio, a former GOP presidential contender, said. "From what I've heard from multiple agencies there is still significant questions about how this is supposed to be applied. So this is a big change and it has a lot of moving parts and a lot of agencies and thousands of individuals task with enforcing it and applying it. Some of whom in the early stages at least we're not confident in how they were to proceed."
 
Rubio's office later said the department provided a general Q&A fact sheet.
 
CNN's Phil Mattingly, Tom LoBianco and Elise Labott contributed to this report.
 
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