By Alexander Bolton - 02-05-17 09:35 AM EST
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday tacitly criticized President Trump for blasting a federal judge for ruling against an executive order barring visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
McConnell said on CNN's "State of the Union" that it is "best to avoid criticizing judges individually."
Trump lashed out at Judge James Robart of the Western District of Washington, an appointee of President George W. Bush, after he ruled against the order on refugees and travelers from Iraq, Syria and other predominantly Muslim counties.
Trump tweeted, "the opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday morning rejected a request by the Justice Department to immediately restore the travel ban.
McConnell said on Sunday that while he agrees with the Trump administration and supports thorough vetting to prevent suspected terrorists from entering the country, "there's a fine line here between proper vetting and interfering with the kind of travel" or subjecting visitors to a religious test.
"We need to avoid doing that kind of thing," he said of unwarranted interference in travel to the United States or creating a religious litmus test.
He also cautioned against shutting out allies who worked with the U.S. military in Iraq and other places.
"We need to be careful about this," he said.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, McConnell panned Trump's proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country as "completely and totally inconsistent with American values."
Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper whether he would support passing legislation to uphold Trump's order, McConnell said it is a matter best left to the courts.
"I don't know that that's necessary. The courts are going to decide whether the executive order the president issued is valid or not and we all follow a court order," he said.
--This report was updated at 10:38 a.m.