Reince Priebus on Muslim Registry: 'Not Going to Rule Out Anything'

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press" that President-elect Donald Trump's team is not planning to create a Muslim registry, but would not rule anything out.

"Look I'm not going to rule out anything," Priebus said. "We're not going to have a registry based on a religion. But what I think what we're trying to do is say that there are some people, certainly not all people... there are some people that are radicalized. And there are some people that have to be prevented from coming into this country."

He added, "And Donald Trump's position, President Trump's position is consistent with bills in the House and the Senate that say the following: If you want to come from a place or an area around the world that harbors and trains terrorists, we have to temporarily suspend that operation until a better vetting system is put in place."

Priebus further maintained that tougher screening was needed before the incoming administration could consider immigration.

"When a better vetting system is put in place then those radical folks, they'll not be allowed in, but then others will be allowed in, but only until that is done. That's what Gen. Michael Flynn believes and that's what President Trump believes."

Controversies have surrounded Trump's approach to a potential Muslim registry.

Flynn, who Trump asked to serve as national security adviser, has denounced Islam as a "political ideology" that "hides behind" religion earlier this year. Flynn also told Al-Jazeera in May that he supported Trump's stated campaign proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States. Flynn said at the time that he urged Trump to use "more precision in the use of the language."

Trump ultimately rebranded the potentially unconstitutional proposal as "extreme vetting" of people from "territories" with a history of terrorism.

Carl Higbie, a Trump surrogate and former spokesman for a pro-Trump PAC, maintained that there were legal precedents for a Muslim registry, a statement some took as an allusion to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Higbie said Thursday on MSNBC that he was not referring to internment camps, but that registration was not inherently troublesome.

"We use register like it's a bad thing," Higbie said. "You have to register your car. Most states, like Connecticut, my own, we have to register our guns. We have to register a ton of things... as long as it keeps America safe."

When asked if Trump agrees with incoming National Security Adviser Flynn's past statement that "fear of Muslims is rational," Priebus said that the president-elect did not think that religious judgments should be categorical.

"He believes that no faith in and of itself should be judged as a whole," Priebus said. "But there are some people in countries abroad that need to be prevented... there are some people that need to be prevented from coming into this country. So I think that's where 99 percent of Americans are at."