Committee chairman Mike McCaul (R) of Texas said he would have preferred to see the White House consult with Congress before implementing the travel ban, which he said produced "confusion" on Capitol Hill. This policy has actually affected people who already had legitimate visas from the US government.
'In retrospect, I should have - this is all on me, by the way - I should have delayed it just a bit so that I could talk to members of Congress, particularly the leadership of committees like this, to prepare them for what was coming, ' he said.
"The White House officials who directed the rollout of the Executive Order should be here to answer for this debacle".
"If something happens bad from letting people in, they don't come and ask the judge about his ruling, they come to me". If the president wanted Kelly to back off from issuing the waiver, Kelly would have to hear it from the president directly, he told Bannon.
Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the committee, acknowledged that Kelly was being called upon to explain and defend an order about which he had little prior knowledge. He testified that he and his staff had been given the opportunity to make changes to the order in the week before the ban was signed.
Kelly referred to the order as a "pause" that would give the US government time to fully evaluate how would-be visitors and refugees are being vetted before they are allowed into the country.
Critics have pointed out that the travelers targeted by the ban wait months or years to secure legal passage to the United States.
"Since September 11, 2001, not a single terrorist attack in the United States has been perpetrated by aliens from the countries named in the Order, " the group said. That's another reason for Kelly to take a "buck stops here" line on all of this during his congressional testimony today: He's not just taking one for the team, he's reclaiming some of his authority after it was undermined by stories like the ones above.
Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said he was encouraged Trump took steps to intensify the vetting of people seeking to enter the USA, including refugees, through executive orders.
"We believe [the order] is lawful and constitutional", said Kelly, who also gave his support for Trump's plan to build a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.
He said he would soon be visiting Tucson, Ariz. and San Diego to get the opinions of federal and local law enforcement officials there.
"They are countries in chaos, countries in collapse", he said.