President Donald Trump went off-script in a Thanksgiving Day call with members of the military, tearing into the federal judiciary, the caravan of migrants approaching the southern U.S. border and the controversy surrounding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump continued to rail against Monday’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar blocking his ban on refugees seeking asylum outside legal points of entry along the U.S. border. He called the ruling “terrible” and reiterated his attack on the judges serving in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“A vast number of their decisions get overturned and it’s a shame, it’s a disgrace frankly,” he said. He called the appeals court “a big thorn in our side.”
He criticized Tigar as “some judge sitting in some location very far away.” Tigar is based in San Francisco. An appeal of his ruling will be heard by the 9th circuit.
Trump broke with the practice of past presidents by using the traditional holiday teleconference call to troops in various parts of the world to vent on political issues.
He claimed a “vast amount of fighting at the border taking place in Mexico” stemming from the migrant caravan. And he repeated his oft-used trope about a large number of criminals being part of the caravan.
“In many cases, they’re not good people. They’re bad people,” he said. “They’re not coming through, we’re not letting criminals into our country.”
Speaking about the fortifications being built by the thousands of troops he sent to patrol the border, he mispronounced “concertina” wire.
Earlier this week, he insisted the newly stationed military personnel don’t mind missing Thanksgiving with their families. “Don’t worry about Thanksgiving,” Trump said. “These are tough people. They know what they’re doing and they’re great. And they’ve done a great job. You’re so worried about the Thanksgiving holiday for them. They are so proud to be representing our country on the border.”
In his comments in Thursday’s call on Khashoggi, the U.S.-based Saudi Arabian writer who was killed last month upon entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Trump said, “Maybe the world should be held accountable” for his death “because the world is a vicious place.”
Trump has been widely criticized, including by several fellow Republican leaders, for soft-pedaling the role of Saudi officials in Khashoggi’s murder, even in the wake of CIA findings tying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing. Trump has instead stressed the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, as well as the economic benefits of Saudi purchases of U.S. weapons.
Earlier this week, he said, “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event ― maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Judge Jon Tigar. He is a U.S. district judge for the northern district of California.