The newly-minted secretary of the Department of Homeland Security learned about President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees from the United States as well as visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries as Trump signed it on television.
The New York Times reported Sunday that Gen. John Kelly and other top officials were being briefed on the order for the first time Friday on a conference call when someone on the call looked at a television.
“The President is signing the executive order that we’re discussing,” the unnamed official said, according to the Times.
The lack of communication from the White House sowed confusion in airports nationwide, as volunteer lawyers, congresspeople and eventually several federal judges demanded that detained refugees with valid visas be let go.
After considerable confusion over the weekend about the status of green card holders from the seven countries named in the order, Kelly said Sunday that “lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”
Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis was also caught off guard by the immigration order, the Times reported.
Mattis reportedly did not see the order’s final draft until hours before Trump signed it in front of him at his ceremonial swearing-in at the Pentagon. Mattis was a vocal critical of what Trump had called a “Muslim ban” during the presidential campaign.