Donald Trump now says his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention featured a call to expand his proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, after the GOP presidential nominee appeared to temper his language on the subject during his remarks.
“I actually don’t think it’s a rollback,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview that aired Sunday morning on “Meet the Press.” “In fact, you could say it’s an expansion.”
During his speech in Cleveland on Thursday, Trump seemed to tone down his rhetoric, not explicitly saying he would ban Muslim immigration as president, but ban immigration from countries “compromised by terrorism.”
“We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place,” Trump said during his address at the Quicken Loans Arena. “We don’t want them in our country.”
Though Trump heavily focused on “Islamic terrorism” in his address, his section on the ban seemed to deviate from the language of his original plan.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” read the Trump campaign’s original December press release announcing the proposal.
On NBC, however, Trump didn’t directly say whether he would implement an immigration ban on all Muslims, though he did imply that the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty wouldn’t necessarily apply to a ban on Muslim immigration.
“People were so upset when I used the word Muslim,” Trump said. “Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim. Remember this. And I’m OK with that, because I’m talking territory instead of Muslim.”
“Our Constitution is great. But it doesn’t necessarily give us the right to commit suicide, OK?” Trump continued. “Now, we have a religious, you know, everybody wants to be protected. And that’s great. And that’s the wonderful part of our Constitution. I view it differently.”
Pressed by Todd on whether the ban on immigration from countries “compromised by terrorism” would prohibit immigration from historically non-Muslim countries like France and Belgium that have been victim of a number of terrorist attacks in recent years, Trump dodged the question. Instead, he criticized those countries’ immigration policies.
“It’s their own fault, because they’ve allowed people over years to come into their territory,” Trump said. “And that’s why Brexit happened, OK? Because the U.K. is saying, ‘We’re tired of this stuff, what’s going on, we’re tired of.’”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.