Jeff Sessions on Wednesday derided the U.S. district judge who blocked President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban. He called the matter “huge,” in a radio interview, then went on to say:
I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.
Sessions was referring to Derrick Kahala Watson, the U.S. district judge who issued his ruling in the state of Hawaii. It’s been nearly six decades since Hawaii entered the union. The former territory became a state in 1959. Today, a federal judge sitting in Hawaii can do what a federal judge anywhere else in the United States can do; it’s unclear why an attorney general should find that fact amazing.
Even more absurd is the fact that Sessions himself voted as a senator to confirm Watson, who is the only Native Hawaiian currently sitting on the federal bench.
Sessions, through a spokesman, sought on Thursday to clarify his comments, noting that “Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific—a beautiful one where the Attorney General’s granddaughter was born.” (Hawaii is an island, commonly referred to as “the Big Island,” but Watson issued his ruling from the federal courthouse in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu.)