Reince Priebus, President-elect Donald Trump’s chief of staff, made numerous contradictory remarks regarding requiring Muslims to register in a national database.
During an interview for “Meet the Press” Sunday, when host Chuck Todd asked if Priebus has ruled out a registry as a possibility, Priebus said that nothing was off the table.
“Look, I’m not going to rule out anything,” he said, stammering over his words. He then said, “But we’re not going to have a registry based on a religion.”
He went on to say that Trump’s position “is consistent with bills in the House and the Senate that say the following: if you want to come from a place or an area around the world that harbors and trains terrorists, we have to temporarily suspend that operation until a better vetting system is put in place.
“And when that happens, when a better vetting system is put in place, then those radical folks, they will not be allowed in, but then others will be allowed in — but only until that is done,” Priebus said.
Todd questioned Priebus about retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor who earlier this year tweeted, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”
“Does President-elect Trump agree with Gen. Flynn that fear of Muslims is rational” he asked.
“He believes that no faith in and of itself should be judged as a whole,” Priebus answered. “But there are some people in countries abroad that need to be prevented from coming into this country.”
He added that “99 percent of Americans” agree with the president-elect.
Last week, a prominent Trump surrogate and former spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC suggested taking away immigrants’ constitutional rights and said there is “precedent” for enforcing a registry of all Muslim Americans: the internment camps Japanese Americans were held in during the World War II era.
The comments led to the Trump team denying the president-elect ever called for a Muslim registry at all. Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump’s presidential transition team, released a statement that said, in part, “President-elect Trump has never advocated for any registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion, and to imply otherwise is completely false.”
Last November, during his divisive campaign, Trump said he would “absolutely” require Muslims to register in a database and said he would consider banning all Muslims from entering the country.
Like quite a few of Trump’s other cabinet picks, Priebus is no stranger to controversy. He also made waves in a 2011 interview, during which he called Osama bin Laden “Obama” on three separate occasions while talking about executing the terrorist.
“[Wisconsin Sen.] Feingold had mentioned that he thought that it would be good if we captured Obama in the battlefield setting and that he suffered the quote-unquote ultimate punishment there,” he said. “I find this point that he’s made to be completely disgusting. I think it’s offensive to the people of Wisconsin, I hope he has an explanation as to why he thinks Obama ought not to be executed and why he thinks we ought to bring Osama bin Laden to the United States that he should be captured alive and actually have a trial.”
Priebus was then asked how Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who at the time was a candidate for senator, would feel about the execution of “Obama.”
“My guess is he would believe that Obama should be executed and he oughta be treated as a war criminal,” he answered.
Only when a reporter asked Priebus to confirm that he was in fact talking about bin Laden and not the president of the United States did Priebus say, “Uh, right.”