The Trump campaign pushed back hard on reports that the presumptive Republican nominee was modifying his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States Monday.
“This is not accurate,” said Hope Hicks, a spokesperson for the campaign. “There has been no change from the exchanges over the weekend.”
CNN had initially reported that Trump was planning to roll back his December proposal for “a total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States” and Trump national spokesperson Katrina Pierson, a frequent television surrogate for the campaign, seemed to agree with reports while trying to spin them.
Although Pierson insisted “it’s only really a change if you never knew what the ban was to begin with”, she seemed to focus on the vetting process. “If you are coming into this country and you cannot be vetted, then you should not be allowed in until you can be vetted. This is not rocket science,” she said.
She claimed the Muslim ban was “simply an immigration position” and said of Trump: “the initial ban on Muslims immigrating into the country that can not be vetted, he still does not want to come into this country. If you can be vetted, it’s a different story.”
Pierson also wrongly claimed that there wasn’t an existing vetting process, telling CNN “we’re not going to base national security off PolitiFact or even the United Nations”.
The idea of a Muslim ban has long been controversial and has been condemned by Republican party leaders, including speaker Paul Ryan.
The ban proposal stated that there be “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”. Trump added: “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
At the time, Trump’s senior policy advisor Sam Clovis, emphasized that this applied to all Muslims. “It would be very easy to say we don’t want any immigration from a predominantly Muslim country”, he said, noting that “there are people who have tried to commit terrorist acts that come from EU countries” and that a broader approach was more appropriate.
Trump’s rhetoric on his Muslim ban has shifted in recent weeks although he has not formally renounced his advocacy of the ban.
In a national security speech in New Hampshire after the Orlando shooting, he said: “When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats.” He also told reporters on his trip to Scotland, “it wouldn’t bother me” if Muslims from the United Kingdom were allowed to visit the United States. However, Trump also said in Atlanta earlier this month “we have to stop, on a temporary basis, at least but we have to stop people from pouring into our country”, and told NBC News a recent interview that the Muslim ban would apply “in particular [to] the terrorist states”.