Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defended his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States during a Dec. 9 interview on “CNN Tonight,” stating he is acting in the best interest of the Islamic community (video below).
"I'm doing good for the Muslims," Trump told host Don Lemon. "Many Muslim friends of mine are in agreement with me. They say, 'Donald, you brought something up to the fore that is so brilliant and so fantastic.'"
Trump has received criticism for his Muslim immigration proposal from Democrats and fellow Republicans, but he finds the public is on his side.
"The group that is not criticizing me," he said, "is the public. The public agrees with what I said. They saw those two animals last week go out and shoot people (in San Bernardino).”
“The people that are with me 100 percent are the people, and that’s frankly all that matters,” Trump added.
Trump does not agree that his comments are “bad for the Republican brand.” Instead, he finds they will be an asset.
Trump and Lemon further discussed his Muslim immigration ban, outlining exceptions that would be made, such as allowing American Muslims traveling overseas to return home.
“This doesn’t apply to American citizens?” Lemon asked Trump of his proposal.
“It never did,” Trump responded. “From day one it never did. I don’t know what people thought it did. This applies to people coming in to the country.”
Trump added that the proposal would only be temporary and last until the “grossly incompetent” United States politicians can “get their act together.”
Trump contends in the interview that “one of the most important people in the Middle East” supports his proposal and told him, “Donald, you’re doing a great service.” Trump did not reveal the person’s name.
"I have many friends who are Muslims," Trump told Lemon. "They're phenomenal people. They are so happy at what I'm doing."
"I love the Middle East," Trump said. "I love the people of the Middle East."
Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States may sound unconstitutional, but whether it is is debatable.
“Donald Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. — even as recently pulled back to make exceptions for U.S. citizens abroad, whether in the military or otherwise, who happen to be Muslims — would be illegal and therefore unconstitutional, as well as being a nightmare to administer,” Laurence H. Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and co-founder of the American Constitution Society, said in an email to Yahoo News.
Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, says an immigration ban on Muslims may not be unconstitutional.
“The Supreme Court has held consistently, for more than a century, that constitutional protections that normally benefit Americans and people on American territory do not apply when Congress decides who to admit and who to exclude as immigrants or other entrants. This is called the plenary power doctrine,” Posner wrote on his website.
“While the Court has not ruled on religious discrimination, it has also never given the slightest indication that religion would be exempt from the general rule,” Posner added.