If President Donald Trump is 2017’s biggest villain so far in the eyes of many Americans—or is it Steve Bannon?—then ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero just might be their biggest hero.
It was a habeas corpus petition from the American Civil Liberties Union that led a federal judge to stay Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries on Saturday night. Thanks to that and other legal action, the ACLU is reported to have pulled in more than $24 million in donations over the weekend—more than six times what it collects in a typical year.
On Tuesday, Romero made a victory lap on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but he did not take much time to celebrate the ACLU’s success and instead used the appearance as a call-to-action for supporters across the country.
“I’ve never felt anything quite like this,” Romero said of his 16-year career. “It’s a bit breathless, but it’s exhilarating at the same time.”
“This president is going down such a far, wrong-headed path,” he continued. “These executive orders are off the charts. This most recent one with the Muslim ban, it’s just astonishing that we would have a president of the United States enact an order within a week of him becoming president that is so fundamentally at the core un-American, immoral, unconstitutional.”
Asked by Noah to respond to Trump’s claims that the order is not a “Muslim ban,” Romero said, “Who are they kidding? Of course it’s a Muslim ban.” He added, “You promised us a Muslim ban, you’ve given us a Muslim ban, we read it as a Muslim ban, then you say it’s not a Muslim ban? Come on!”
After telling the story of how his staff suddenly ended up with “all hands on deck” this past Saturday, sending lawyers to airports all across the country, Romero praised Judge Anne Donnelly for understanding that the “equities involved were too great” to let Trump’s order stand as is.
Bizarrely, the screen cut to black on Comedy Central mid-interview, leading many viewers to suggest a Trump-led conspiracy theory was afoot to silence the ACLU. The Daily Beast has reached out to the network to find out what exactly happened and when it will be making the full interview available online (now above).
Among those who noticed was Noah, who was apparently watching the taped interview at home.