Priebus: No ‘Registry Based on a Religion,’ But a Temporary Ban ‘Until a Better Vetting System is in Place’

By Patrick Goodenough | November 20, 2016 | 7:40pm EST
RNC chairman Reince Priebus, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for chief of staff, speaks alongside Trump and vice president-elect, Mike Pence, at their election night rally in New York on Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/John Loche, File)

( – President-elect Donald Trump is not proposing a “registry based on a religion,” his incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday, adding that people from countries posing terrorism concerns would be temporarily barred from entry into the U.S. “until a better vetting system is put in place.”

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he could “equivocally rule out a registry for Muslims,” Priebus replied, “Look I'm not going to rule out anything, but I wouldn’t – we’re not going to have a registry based on a religion.”

He continued that “there are some people, certainly not all people,” who are radicalized.

“There are some people that have to be prevented from coming into this country.”

Priebus said Trump’s position was consistent with bills before Congress that essentially say, “If you come, 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.”

Once a better vetting system is in place, radicalized individuals from those places will not be allowed entry into the U.S. but “others will be allowed in,” he added.

Priebus was asked by host Chuck Todd about some views on Islam expressed by Trump’s national security advisor pick, former Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

Specifically, last February Flynn posted online a link to a video that listed the perpetrators of major terrorist attacks as Muslims. The video began by rejecting the term “Islamophobia,” pointing out that “phobia” means an irrational fear. In a tweet carrying a link to the video, Flynn wrote, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions ...”

Asked by Todd whether Trump agrees with Flynn that “fear of Muslims is rational,” Priebus replied, “He believes that no faith in and of itself should be judged as a whole.

“But there are some people in countries abroad that need to be prevented from co – there are some people that need to be prevented from coming into this country,” he said. “So I think that’s where 99 percent of Americans are at.”

‘Clearly there are some aspects of that faith that are problematic’

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last week urged Trump not to appoint Flynn to the senior post, drawing attention to other comments by the retired general, including suggestions that Islam was an “political ideology” hiding being a religious façade.

In an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Priebus was asked about those remarks by Flynn, and whether they were in line with Trump’s views on Islam.

“Well I think so, I mean, look, phrasing can always be done differently but clearly there are some aspects of that faith that are problematic. And we know them, we’ve seen it,” he said. “But it’s certainly isn’t a blanket for all people of that faith.”

Priebus went on to defend Flynn, saying he has been at Trump’s side “for a very long time,” and is respected and trusted by the president-elect.

“He’s an unbelievably gifted, smart person that will lead that post with honor and dignity.”

Responding to Priebus’ comments on Sunday, CAIR’s government affairs director, Robert McCaw, said, “Our nation is not served by the denigration of Islam or by the introduction of ineffective and discriminatory policies targeting Muslims.”

CAIR has also voiced concern about Trump’s naming of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for the post of attorney general and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kans.) as head of the CIA, saying they signaled a “troubling Islamophobic trend.”

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