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White House tries to ban the word 'ban,' hours after president uses it himself

"This is not a ban," spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters in a fiery news briefing. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
"This is not a ban," spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters in a fiery news briefing. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

President Trump used the word "ban" in a tweet as recently as Monday to describe his new executive order suspending travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and halting the refugee program for several months.

But facing backlash from many directions, the White House adamantly insisted Tuesday that the word is verboten.

"This is not a ban," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in a fiery news briefing.

"When we use words like 'travel ban,'" he said later, "that misrepresents what it is. It's seven countries previously identified by the Obama administration, where, frankly, we don't get the information that we need for people coming into this country."

In fact, people from the seven banned countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya — cannot enter the United States under the order. Spicer appeared to be making a renewed effort to distinguish the order from the all-out ban on Muslims entering the country that Trump proposed during the campaign.

Many around the world see the newest policy as an outgrowth of that proposal.

Trump himself conceded a religious connection when he said in an interview on Friday that he wanted to make it easier for Syrian Christians to enter the country. And former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that the order sprang from a group he formed at Trump's request to create a legal framework that would accomplish the campaign goal of a "Muslim ban."

But amid confusion and worldwide criticism in recent days, the Trump administration has tried to temper some of the more incendiary rhetoric around the proposal.

Even the words "extreme vetting," a favorite Trump slogan, were called into question by Spicer on Tuesday.

"Calling for tougher vetting [of] individual travelers from seven nations is not extreme," he said. "It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country."

But changing the ban branding around the program at this point will be difficult. Here's Trump's tweet from Monday:

And Spicer himself used the term ban as recently as Sunday:

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