The White House has posted inaccurate texts of President Trump’s own executive orders on the White House website, raising further questions about how thorough the Trump administration has been in drafting some of his most controversial actions.
A USA TODAY review of presidential documents found at least five cases where the version posted on the White House website doesn’t match the official version sent to the Federal Register. The differences include minor grammatical changes, missing words and paragraph renumbering — but also two cases where the original text referred to inaccurate or non-existent provisions of law.
By law, the Federal Register version is the legally controlling language. But it can often take several days for the order to be published, meaning that the public must often rely on what the White House puts out — and that’s sometimes inaccurate. For example:
► The controversial travel ban executive order suspended the Visa Interview Waiver Program and required the secretary of State to enforce a section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act requiring an in-person interview for everyone seeking a non-immigrant visa. But the White House version of the order referred to that provision as 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires a physical and mental examination — not 8 U.S.C. 1202, which requires an interview.
► An executive order on ethical standards for administration appointees, as it appears on the White House website, refers to”section 207 of title 28″ of the U.S. Code. As the nonprofit news site Pro Publica reported last week, that section does not exist. The Federal Register correctly cited section 207 of title 18, which does exist.
Transparency advocates said the discrepancies raises unnecessary concerns about the Trump’s executive actions. “These last-minute edits suggest the Trump White House needs to revisit their vetting, sign-off, and publication processes for executive orders,” said John Wonderlich, executive director of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.
The White House has faced questions about the vetting of executive orders, especially the order suspending travel for nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries. That order caused confusion inside and outside the administration and led to the firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates when she refused to defend it in court.