Watch Donald Trump’s exchange with a reporter about requiring Muslims to register with the U.S. government and judge for yourself.
Here’s a transcript of their exchange:
MSNBC Reporter: Should there be a database or system that tracks Muslims in this country?
Donald Trump: There should be a lot of systems. Beyond databases. I mean, we should have a lot of systems. And today you can do it. But right now we have to have a border, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall, and we cannot let what’s happening in this country happen any longer.
MSNBC Reporter: But that’s something your White House would want to implement?
Trump: Oh, I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.
MSNBC Reporter: What do you think the effect of that – how would that work?
Trump: It would stop people from coming in illegally. We have to stop people from coming in to our country illegally.
MSNBC Reporter: But specifically, how do you actually get them registered into a database?
Trump: It would be just good management. What you have to do is good management procedures. And we can do that. (to someone else) That’s nice.
MSNBC Reporter: Do you go to mosques and sign people up?
Trump: Different places. You sign ‘em up at different, but it’s all about management. Our country has no management.
MSNBC Reporter: Would they have to legally be in this database, would they be–
Trump: They have to – they have to be. Let me just tell you: People can come to the country, but they have to come legally. Thank you very much.
Later an NBC News reporter asked Trump what the difference was between why would Muslim databases not be the same thing as Jews registering in Nazi Germany? What’s the difference?”
After ignoring the question, asking the reporter where he’s from, and glaring, Trump said, “you tell me. Why don’t you tell me?” Trump then continued down the rope line, ignoring the questions.
In the first exchange, Trump is signing autographs and intermittently interacting with people off-camera. Perhaps the most generous explanation is that he’s not really listening to what the MSNBC reporter asked; he goes back to talking about the wall, and seems to be saying that registering Muslims in the United States – presumably including native-born American citizens – would “stop people from coming in illegally.”
Based on this exchange, it’s not accurate to say that Donald Trump has proposed or called for this. Of course, he doesn’t rule it out, and he doesn’t respond as most Constitutionally-minded Americans would prefer he did, such as “no, of course not, we’re not creating a government database of any religious group, that’s the opposite of the values enshrined in our Constitution.”
Of course, “he doesn’t pay attention to the questions he’s asked in front of cameras” isn’t the most heartening explanation.