Real-estate mogul Donald Trump battled the media in a series of Tuesday-morning interviews in which he was challenged on his plan to bar all Muslim immigrants and tourists from entering the US.
ABC “This Morning” host George Stephanopoulos repeatedly asked Trump if he was having any “second thoughts” about the idea.
One host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Mika Brzezinski, directly told Trump that the proposal scared her. The other host, Joe Scarborough, cut to commercial break to get Trump to stop interrupting him.
But Chris Cuomo, a host of CNN’s “New Day,” arguably most directly challenged Trump over his proposal.
“What you’re doing, in the country that is known as a symbol of freedom, is saying, ‘We’re too afraid to be inclusive. We’re going to reject the promise of America and ban an entire religion even though we need to do things on a case-by-case basis,'” the host said.
Cuomo added, “And it seems as though you’re acting out of fear, not making us look strong.”
Trump stressed that he was simply advocating for a “temporary situation so our countries’ representatives can figure out what the hell is going on” within the Muslim community.
The Republican presidential front-runner then listed several terror attacks — including the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks and last week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, which was linked to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
“This isn’t about being politically correct. This isn’t about being politically correct,” Cuomo told Trump. “I don’t see the point of scaring people with the possible when the reality is we haven’t had another World Trade Center [attack]. … We haven’t had those kinds of attacks. The security network has held up. And one of the reasons is our unity as a people.”
Cuomo continued: “And I don’t understand how you can see banning an entire religion as a way of saying anything other than, ‘We are what ISIS says we are. We want a war against Islam. That’s who America is.’ And as you know — or you should know — that’s not who America is, Mr. Trump.”
Trump responded by arguing that the US is “at war” with jihadists.
“We are at war with radical Islam. We are at war with them. Chris, put through your head,” Donald Trump said, blasting President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not embracing the term “radical Islamic terrorism.”
“They want the jihad. It’s very simple: They want the jihad,” Trump added.
After Cuomo chided Trump for throwing “out notions without any kind of checking of them,” Trump then cited a questionable survey from the Center for Security Policy, a think tank founded by the anti-Islamic activist Frank Gaffney. The group’s June poll purported to show that a large number of American Muslims embrace violence.
“Donald, we wouldn’t even put the poll on the air. It’s a hack organisation with a guy who was dismissed from the conservative circles for conspiracy theories. You know that,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo later told Trump that “people who are in the business of keeping us safe” say his Muslim-banning proposal is “stupid.”
Watch the first part of the interview below:
Watch the second part below:
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