Ban on Muslim immigrants within his first 100 days as president
In his first sitdown interview as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump refused to back down his his longstanding – and long-since debunked – claims that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and also refused to denounce antisemitic attacks on a journalist who wrote a profile about his wife.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Trump doubled down on some of his most controversial and inflammatory positions, claiming his statements about the president’s nationality or his attempts to link the father of former rival Ted Cruz to the assassination of John F Kennedy were proportional to attacks waged against himself.
“I’ve given up a tremendous amount to run for president,” Trump told Blitzer. “I gave up two more seasons of Celebrity Apprentice.”
Blitzer asked Trump specifically to address his supporters who had sent “vicious” messages to journalist Julia Ioffe this week. After her profile of Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, appeared in this month’s issue of GQ, the Russian-American journalist received a torrent of antisemitic and threatening messages from supporters of the Republican frontrunner.
“She doesn’t need to have bad things said about her,” he said of his wife. Trump protested that he knew nothing of any antisemitic or abusive comments and threats directed at Ioffe.
When Blitzer asked Trump about his past support of “birtherism” – the fervent and unsubstantiated belief that Obama was secretly born outside of the United States and is therefore constitutionally ineligible for the presidency, Trump pinned his past statements on his likely opponent in the general election: Hillary Clinton.
“She’s the one who started it,” Trump said. The billionaire has long argued that the former secretary of state was the instigator in the birther movement, although evidence for this assertion has not surfaced.
Trump, whose senior campaign staff have intimated to Republican party leadership that the candidate would moderate his tone in the general election, also refused to walk back statements on other hot-button issues, including his signature proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration into the United States.
“I don’t know, I mean, look, I don’t know,” Trump said, when Blitzer asked if such a proposal would alienate America’s allies in the Middle East. “The migration is a disaster – we’re letting in thousands of people. They don’t have documentation, they don’t have paperwork, we don’t know who they are or where they come from.”
In an interview with the New York Times Trump said he would implement the ban within his first 100 days, the paper reported.
He also declared that his suggestion that US troop presence in friendly nations should be subsidized was still a key feature of his proposed national security platform.
“If they’re not going to take care of us properly, we cannot afford to police the entire world,” Trump said, when asked if he would allow Japan and South Korea to become nuclear powers. “I’m prepared to walk, and if they don’t take care of us properly ... they’re gonna have to defend themselves.”
When Blitzer quoted a military estimate that it might cost more money to house American troops in the US than in Japan, Trump implied that perhaps those troops were redundant. “Maybe you don’t need them. Maybe you don’t need them.”
Watch footage from the interview, as posted online on Thursday, below.