Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Sunday on Sunday brushed off backlash to his comments referring “an island in the Pacific” — known to most as Hawaii — by complaining that “nobody has a sense of humor anymore.”
“Why not just call it the state of Hawaii?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Sessions on “This Week.”
“Nobody has a sense of humor anymore,” Sessions said.
Sessions said he thought a federal judge from Hawaii made “a mistake” by blocking President Donald Trump’s executive order barring immigrants from a handful of majority-Muslim countries.
“This order is lawful. It’s within his authority constitutionally and explicit statutory authority,” Sessions said. “And so you do have a situation in which one judge out of 700 in America has stopped this order.”
In March, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson blocked a revised version of the order hours before it was set to go into effect.
Sessions on Wednesday said he was “amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States.”
The state’s Democratic senators quickly hit back. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) on Thursday called Session’s remarks “ignorant & dangerous” and noted that Hawaii “has been the 50th state for going on 58 years.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) urged Sessions to “have some respect.”
Hawaii state Attorney General Doug Chin on Thursday called Sessions’ remarks “disappointing” and said Sessions appeared “to dismiss a federal judge in Hawaii as just a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific.”
In a statement released Thursday, the Justice Department said that “Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific.”
On Friday, Sessions defended his remarks as “perfectly correct.”
“I wasn’t diminishing the judge or the island of Hawaii, that beautiful place,” he said. “Give me a break.”