President Donald Trump’s first month in office has been mired in gaffes, scandals, arguable treason, and incompetence so deep that his controversial executive orders were even published incorrectly. This was not a one-time mistake, either. Reports have found no fewer than five errors.
In a report by USA Today, the text of some of the Executive Orders signed by Trump that were hosted on WhiteHouse.gov, the official website of the president, had typos, errors, or were legally inaccurate. While these files are not legally binding, they play an important role in enforcing these executive orders, and are a crucial source of information for the public.
Among the most egregious mistakes is one found in Trump’s executive order banning Muslims from seven countries from entering the U.S. In the official text of the bill, Section 8 requires non-immigrant visa applicants to go through the in-person interview designated under 8 U.S.C. 1202. On WhiteHouse.gov, however, Section 8 refers to 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires a physical and mental examination.
This typo is not just a laughable inconvenience. For a short period of time, the version of the law on WhiteHouse.gov is the most accessible one available, even for government agencies charged with enforcing those orders. Typos like these change how the law is enforced.
When the president signs an executive order, the exact physical copy of the order that he, or she, signed goes to the Federal Register. This copy is the official text of the law, and gets published online and in print by the Federal Register, which is part of the National Archives.
However, it often takes several days for an executive order to make its way to the Federal Register and get published. During this time, the White House publishes the executive orders online, on WhiteHouse.gov for rapid dissemination.
The mistake in the Muslim Ban was not an anomaly, either. In the executive order dealing with ethical commitments of Trump’s appointees, the official version with the Federal Register refers to 18 U.S.C. 207. The WhiteHouse.gov version, though, refers to 28 U.S.C. 207.
This particular 28 U.S.C. 207 version has puzzled ethics lawyers, largely because it does not exist.
Especially strange about this legal mishap is that most of this particular order was plagiarized, word-for-word, from an earlier order by President Barack Obama. There was no typo in Obama’s version.
Other mistakes in Trump’s executive orders on WhiteHouse.gov include an incorrectly-numbered list, a phrase in the passive voice, and a sentence that is missing half of its words.
Check out Jon Stewart’s segment on Trump’s executive orders: