The Justice Department clarified Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsDem lawmaker to Sessions: 'You are a racist and a liar' Top Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms DNC chairman slams Sessions for deportation comments MORE's remarks about a Hawaii federal judge, noting that “Hawaii is in fact an island in the Pacific,” according to a Thursday CNN report.
In an interview with conservative radio show host Mark Levin that was posted Wednesday, Sessions expressed amazement that a judge in Hawaii could halt President Trump's executive order on immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries.
"I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power," Sessions told Levin.
His remarks, highlighted by CNN's KFile, quickly drew criticism and headlines.
A Justice Department spokesman later elaborated on Sessions's comment.
"Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific -- a beautiful one where the Attorney General's granddaughter was born," Justice Department spokesperson Ian D. Prior told CNN. "The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the President's lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe.”
Judge Derrick Watson, a federal judge based in Hawaii, issued an order last month that froze the president’s travel ban nationwide.
The Justice Department is in the process of appealing Watson’s decision.