"A self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism": John McCain, Lindsey Graham stand up to Donald Trump's Muslim ban

Sens. McCain and Graham are taking the change against Trump's bigoted executive order

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 30, 2017 1:33PM (EST)

 (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Lucas Jackson/Photo montage by Salon)
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Lucas Jackson/Photo montage by Salon)

Two prominent Republicans — Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham — have taken a stand against President Donald Trump's ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

"Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation," said McCain and Graham in a joint statement published on McCain's Senate website on Sunday. "It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security."

The statement went on to argue that Trump's ban was playing right into the hands of the terrorists he claims to want to thwart.

"Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL," McCain and Graham wrote. "But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security."

In response to the two senators' statement, President Trump unleashed a tirade against them on Twitter.

Other Republicans who have opposed Trump's executive order include Tennessee Sens. Bob Corker (who is also chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee) and Lamar Alexander, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner.

McCain seems to have emerged as the public figure taking the charge in criticizing Trump's Muslim ban from the left, however, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday to denounce it as playing into Islamic terrorists' hands.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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