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White House Rewriting Trump's Controversial Travel Ban Order: Sources

Sources close to President Trump tell NBC News they're working on travel ban language that could pass muster with the courts.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump arrives in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 9, 2017, for a meeting with airline executives.Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump said Friday that he could issue a new executive order on immigration after an appeals court refused to reinstate restrictions on entry to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

"The unfortunate part is that it takes time statutorily ... we'll win that battle," Trump said. "But we also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order on Monday."

Asked what changes could be made if a new order were issued, the president replied, "very little."

Trump’s blocked executive order suspended for 90 days entry to the United States by nationals from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

A federal judge in Seattle issued a restraining order last week that blocked it, and a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday refused a Justice Department request for a stay on that temporary restraining order, meaning the travel restrictions remain on hold.

NBC News reported earlier Friday that White House lawyers are working on a rewrite of his executive order that could pass legal muster. The work began several days before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shot down the White House’s bid to lift the temporary restraining order on Trump’s executive order.

Trump’s legal team still believes it will be eventually proven correct on the merits of the current executive order, administration officials tell NBC News. And they are looking into several options, including continuing the court battle as well as signing a new immigration executive order "very soon."

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told NBC News late Friday that "every option is on the table," including taking the current case to the Supreme Court.

Related: Analysis: Here are Three Potential Fixes to the Travel Ban Order

Trump took to Twitter to voice his outrage Thursday minutes after the three-judge panel decided unanimously not to reinstate the ban.

"It’s a political decision and we’re going to see them in court," Trump told reporters.

The appeals court judges dismissed Justice Department arguments that presidential decisions about immigration policy related to national security are not subject to legal review.

"There is no precedent to support his claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the judges wrote.

The ruling came in response to a ruling by a lower-court judge in Seattle who issued a temporary restraining order last Friday that blocked Trump’s so-called "travel ban."

The DOJ argued that Trump had the authority to issue the order and that U.S. District Judge James Robart’s restraining order was overly broad and a danger to the public.

The three judges on the panel disagreed.

After Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order went into effect there was near immediate chaos at airports as green card holders, students and professors from the targeted countries were detained and barred from entering the country. Critics accused Trump of engineering an unconstitutional “Muslim ban.”

Trump has insisted it wasn’t.

"This is not about religion," he said. "This is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order,"

But Trump’s argument was undercut by trusted adviser Rudy Giuliani who told Fox News Saturday Night that the president had talked to him about imposing a “Muslim ban” and asked his advice on "the right way to do it legally.”

Not one of the Al Qaeda terrorists who launched the 9/11 attacks was from any of the seven countries.