When President-elect Donald Trump got the question from reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort whether the recent attack at a Christmas market in Berlin has given him reason to reassess his proposals, which also include a registry for Muslims in the US, Trump gave a rather vague reply. “You know my plans,” Trump said, adding, “All along, I’ve been proven to be right, 100 percent correct.”
His response has since raised speculation that he might be planning to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States, a plan he first advocated after several terror attacks last December. However, his advisers have appeared to make an attempt to downplay his intentions.
On Thursday, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager and newly named counselor to the president, insisted on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Trump’s subsequent pledge to institute “extreme vetting” of immigrants is “not a complete ban” of Muslims and, when asked directly, she said religion will not be a litmus test for people entering the United States.
Conway tried to clarify what the president-elect meant the prior day, saying, “The comment really went to the fact that he was immediately criticized, and unfairly criticized, when he presumed that these attacks in Germany and in Turkey had to do with ISIS and then, of course, he is correct and that’s what he’s saying. He’s saying that he is the guy out there saying we need extreme vetting policies that we need to have a better system vis-a-vis countries that train, harbor and export terrorists.”
“He said during the campaign long after he had originally proposed that, that this would be more strictly tied to countries where we know they have a history of terrorism and that this is not — this is not a complete ban,” she added.
When Trump first called for the Muslim ban in December 2015, it was roundly condemned by civil liberties groups, as well as many Republicans, including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, now Trump’s incoming vice president, who called it “offensive and unconstitutional.” After the uproar, Trump appeared to make a shift from a full ban on Muslims entering the US to a plan of “extreme vetting” for any immigrants originating from countries which are known to foster terrorist activities. Trump has not renounced his previous support for a Muslim ban, though, even as Pence in October insisted “that’s not Donald Trump’s position now.”