Donald Trump has had a busy Sunday morning.
On ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, he reaffirmed his desire to create a database of Syrian refugees, surveil mosques, and reintroduce waterboarding in an interview with Sunday morning. He also declined to rule out running as an Independent candidate, despite signing a pledge not to do so in September. On “Fox and Friends,” the candidate defended his supporters’ beating of a Black Lives Matter protestor at a rally.
Trump has previously said that he would not allow Syrian refugees to enter the United States and that he would advocate for a database to track the refugees. On ABC’s “This Week,” Trump reaffirmed the position, saying that he wanted to ensure the refugees were not a “Trojan horse.” “But when these Syrians come in, or wherever they are, because we’re not even sure that they’re coming in from Syria, if they’re going to come in, we have to be very, very vigilant,” he said. “And a database would be fine for them and a watchlist is fine. We have to watch and see what we’re doing.”
The candidate also told Stephanopoulos that he thinks that mosques in America should be surveilled. Trump backed off on his previous statements this week calling for U.S. mosques to be closed. Instead, he said, “you have got to use strong measures or you’re going to see buildings coming down all over New York City and elsewhere.” He praised the New York Police Department’s surveillance program on Muslim communities in New York City that was disbanded in 2014 after criticism from civil rights groups.
Earlier this week, in response to the attacks in Paris that left 129 dead, Trump said that the United States should introduce security measures that were previously “unthinkable.” On the ABC interview, he elaborated on this point, saying he would support the return of waterboarding. The controversial practice, implemented during George W. Bush’s presidency, was discontinued by the Obama administration after it was condemned by U.S. allies, human rights groups and others as torture. (Last year, a 500-page Senate report also found that the harsh, CIA interrogation technique didn’t yield meaningful information, a finding former CIA officials contested.)
“I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us, what they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head,” Trump said Sunday, referring to an ISIS video release in 2014 that depicted the murder of American journalist James Foley. “That’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”
Trump also declined to rule out running as an Independent candidate on ABC Sunday, even though he, along with other GOP candidates, signed a pledge in September to end his campaign if he does not win the Republican nomination. “I’m going to have to see what happens,” he said to Stephanopoulos. “You know, when I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine. All I want to do is a level playing field.”
On another Sunday morning program, “Fox and Friends,” Trump expressed support for his fans who tackled, kicked, and punched a protestor who chanted “Black Lives Matter” at a Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday. “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Trump told the “Fox and Friends” host. “It was disgusting what he was doing.”
According to a new poll by ABC News and The Washington Post released Sunday, Trump is number 1 in the polls, with support from 32 percent of registered Republicans. Ben Carson, in the number 2 spot, is trailing behind at 22 percent.