Watch Chuck Todd Grill Sen. Jeff Sessions For Ten Minutes About His Support For Trump And His Anti-Islamic Rhetoric
Todd: “How Is This Constitutional … If We Have A Religious Test For Who Gets To Come Into The Country?”
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From the June 15 edition of MSNBC's Meet The Press Daily:
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CHUCK TODD (HOST): Last week you were pretty honest, pretty blunt, about what you thought of Donald Trump’s week. You said it was a pretty, let me get it correctly, you said "it was not the best of weeks." It feels like from the outside things have gotten worse this week, what’s your assessment?
JEFF SESSIONS: Well I don't think so. I think the speech he gave on terrorism and what’s happening to America really raised the key issues. It’s not guns, its not those kind of things, it is a dangerous ideology that does threaten America. We need to figure out a better way, we need to slow down and figure out a better way to protect us from those kind of threats and I think we can.
TODD: Now some of your colleagues, Republican colleagues, Mark Kirk called it un-American. Ben Sasse, on the judge comments, said it was a racist comment. Senator Corker yesterday said he was, get it right here, "discouraged by the direction of the campaign." Senator Graham called his comments highly offensive. I want to focus on Senator Corker. Sen. Corker is somebody who has been open minded about Donald Trump in senate. Some of those other senators I pointed out have not. What do you say to him?
SESSIONS: I think our colleagues are confused about something. We absolutely protect the right of every Muslim that's in America to be able to carry out their religious beliefs as they choose. We respect them and we respect the Muslim religion. What he's saying is that we need to be careful about who we admit into the country. There is no constitutional right to come to America if you possess an ideology that is dangerous. If you believe it is okay to murder gay people. Give me a break. We need to do a better job of screening against that and that’s what Donald Trump is saying. And I think some of our people feel like he is dismissing an entire religion and that is not what he said.
TODD: But Senator, if he had said the way you said it, then you would have an easier time defending him. But the problem is he's not saying it that way you’re saying it. He's saying a temporary ban on all Muslims coming in, immigrating from any country. That’s not -- you didn't say that just now, he has.
SESSIONS: He said a temporary ban until we figure out what's going on and I think that's a legitimate analysis here. It is time for us to review what we're doing, put aside political correctness, reject the idea that we can't even say that radical Islam is the driving force behind this terrorism. He made Hillary Clinton say it. She was refusing to say it, she finally said it once. Because Her position is untenable, President Obama’s position is untenable. You cannot defend America effectively if you do not know the nature of the threat we face.
TODD: Do you believe, though, that somehow this is going to pass constitutional muster? How is this constitutional, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, if we have a religious test for deciding who gets to come into this country?
SESSIONS: Well its really not about religion, is it? Fundamentally, some people who religiously believe that Islam calls for more than just a personal religious faith. They believe it calls from state domination and imposition of a one form of law, sharia law, that comes from God himself, from Allah, and that it is immutable and cannot be changed. And so we need to understand the difficulty of what we are dealing with here, religiously and we need to challenge our allies and friends around the world –
TODD: But Senator, with all due respect --
On the constitutional question, let me answer that. You don't have a constitutional right to demand entry to the United States. The law of the United States is today that if a president finds a person or class of persons are detrimental to the United States they can be denied admission, he can place certain restrictions on it. We can do a better job of inquiring of applicants from countries that have a history of attacking us, what their beliefs are and we don't have to accept everybody. You don't have a constitutional right to enter the United States.