UPDATE 1:56pm Donald Trump has sacked his acting Attorney-General after she directed all United States legal representatives to not defend the billionaire’s controversial immigration ban.
The New York Times revealed on Tuesday morning (AEDT) that acting Attorney-General Sally Yates – appointed by former President Barack Obama – had made the directive, which forced Mr Trump to remove her (read more here).
Earlier, Mr Obama criticised Mr Trump’s immigration and travel ban.
Mr Obama, through his spokesperson, released a statement which expressed admiration for those publicly protesting the ban.
The end of the statement then read: “The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”
Earlier, with travellers stranded at airports and an outpouring of criticism from lawyers, politicians and world leaders – but not Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Trump eased part of his divisive immigration ban. But it did little to quell the rising sense of crisis enveloping his presidency.
The Trump administration pulled back on the ruling which prohibited those with green cards from re-entering the US.
Mr Trump signed the executive order on Friday (US time), banning entry of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The ban included those who hold US green cards and were citizens of the seven listed countries, but they will now be allowed back into the USA in a concession prompted by widespread anger.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday chose not to criticise America’s harsh new policies.
“It’s not my job as Prime Minister of Australia to run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries,” he said.
On Tuesday morning Mr Turnbull confirmed to Sky News that Australian dual citizens would not be affected by the ban.
Other leaders were more forthright. Germany’s Angela Merkel said “putting people from a specific background or faith under general suspicion” was not justified, while UK Prime Minister Theresa May labelled the move as “divisive, unhelpful and wrong”.
The outcry capped a disastrous first week for the new President who is already in unpopular territory. Pollster Gallup reported that 51% of Americans already disapprove of Mr Trump’s performance.
“That’s a record for the speed of getting to majority disapproval,” the LA Times reported.
Most recent Presidents enjoyed majority approval for at least the first of their four-year terms; Mr Trump’s rating dipped into the negative after just eight days.
In Washington, thousands of protesters gathered outside Mr. Trump’s front lawn to denounce his order and show solidarity with Muslim Americans, The New York Times reported
They chanted “shame” and hoisted homemade signs toward the executive mansion, where Mr. Trump was scheduled to host a private screening of the movie “Finding Dory”, the paper said.
Elsewhere, the influential US Silicon Valley tech community was one of the latest groups to voice its concerns at Mr Trump’s executive order on immigration, which targeted citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Tech giants including Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb and Tesla Motors have presented an almost united front in condemning the ban.
The international aid group Doctors Without Borders accused Mr Trump of keeping people “trapped in war zones, directly endangering their lives”.
The Iraqi parliament approved a “reciprocity measure” restricting the entry of Americans into Iraq.
But with protesters chanting slogans and waving placards outside the White House, Mr Trump defended his order.
If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the "bad" would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad "dudes" out there!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017
“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” he said. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
Statement Regarding Recent Executive Order Concerning Extreme Vetting “America is a proud nation of immigrants and we…
He sent out a flurry of tweets, among them one blaming computer glitches for chaos at airports over the weekend, along with protestors and the “tears of Senator Schumer”.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer had earlier teared up on camera as he seethed over the “mean spirited and un–American” immigration ban. He was among several Democrats in Congress who said they would be introducing legislation to stop the ban.
Australian politicians respond
Mr Turnbull on Monday refused to condemn the new measures, but added that the government would take up complaints from Australians who said they were affected.
Instead, Mr Turnbull said Australia’s “border security arrangements” were “the envy of the world”.
“If others wish to emulate what we’re doing, they’re welcome to do so,” he said.
In contrast, Mrs May has said she “did not agree” with the travel ban, and Canada’s Justin Trudeau indicated that refugees rejected by the US were welcome in his country.
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
Mr Turnbull said the Department of Foreign and Affairs and Trade did not yet know of any cases where Australian dual nationals were barred from travelling to the US.
Victims speak out
Mr Turnbull’s statement came as victims of the ban around the world expressed concern about how the executive order would impact them.
Somalian-born British Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah, who lives in the United States, revealed that he may have to tell his children he won’t return.
“It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that daddy might not be able to come home – to explain why the President has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice,” Farah wrote on Facebook.
Asghar Farhad, the Iranian director of The Salesman, which is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards, said he would not attend the ceremony due to Mr Trump’s ban.
The NBA is also seeking clarification from immigration officials over whether Milwaukee’s Thon Maker, a Sudanese-Australian, will be affected if the Bucks come up against the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs.
Some tech companies announced measures to assist victims, including their own employees, with Airbnb offering free accommodation for those affected by Mr Trump’s executive order.
“Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected,” tweeted Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky.
Tech giant Google estimated at least 187 of its staff members would be affected by the ban.
“We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US,” the company said in a statement.
Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said it was “time to protect American values of freedom and opportunity”.
Ride-sharing company Uber came under fire for its response, which some claimed showed it was trying to profit from airport chaos brought about by Mr Trump’s executive order.
The popular app was bombarded with criticism after it tweeted that it would eliminate “surge pricing” – lowering fares – at New York’s JFK Airport while the local taxi drivers’ union went on strike in opposition to the travel ban.
The #DeleteUber hashtag quickly went viral, with critics pointing to chief executive Travis Kalanick’s decision to sit on one of the president’s advisory panels and claiming the company was trying to break up the strike.
Last tweet not meant to break strike. Our CEO’s statement opposing travel ban and compensating those impacted: https://t.co/joWvPvux9J
— Uber NYC (@Uber_NYC) January 29, 2017
Mr Kalanick later announced he would set up a $3 million legal defence fund for Uber drivers affected by the ban, which he described as “unjust”.
Britons react in numbers
More than 1.3 million Britons have signed an on-line petition calling for the president’s planned state visit to be cancelled to avoid embarrassing the Queen.
The petition on the UK Parliamentary website was created before Mr Trump’s inflammatory executive order, but after the signing it gained almost immediate traction.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office shut down the idea of a cancellation, saying the visit would go ahead as planned.
Once a petition passes 100,000 signatures it must be considered for debate, which would be potentially embarrassing for Mrs May.