US Attorney General Jeff Sessions dismisses Hawaii as 'an island in the Pacific', senators hit back

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions removes himself from campaign probesReuters

Senators from Hawaii are angry over US Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he spoke dismissively about the state when he was addressing the issue of the federal district ruling that blocked President Donald Trump's travel ban for six Muslim-majority countries.

In an interview to radio host Mark Levin on Wednesday (19 April), Sessions said: "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."

He added: "We are confident that the president will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So this is a huge matter."

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In March, federal judge Derrick Watson issued a nationwide injunction that blocked President Trump's travel ban.

Watson ruled that the plaintiffs – State of Hawaii and the imam of Muslim Association of Hawaii, Ismail Elshikh, had reasonable grounds to challenge the executive order as religious discrimination.

Senator Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, who represent the state of Hawaii, have rebuked Sessions for his description of the state in such dismissive terms.

Senator Hirono took to Twitter and said: "Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences — including my own."

She further wrote: "Jeff Sessions' comments are ignorant & dangerous." Senator Schatz said, "Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It's my home. Have some respect."

When asked to clarify the Sessions' comment, a spokesperson for the Justice Department Ian Prior said: "Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the attorney general's granddaughter was born. The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the president's lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe."

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington DC, 2 March 2017Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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