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In Reaction to Brussels Terror Attack, Trump Says Do More Than Waterboarding

by Leigh Ann Caldwell and Marianna Sotomayor /
Image: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump waves after addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) afternoon general session in Washington
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump waves after addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) afternoon general session in Washington March 21, 2016.REUTERS/Joshua RobertsJOSHUA ROBERTS / Reuters

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Weighing in on the Brussels terror attacks killing at least 31 people, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said the Belgium authorities should perform "the waterboarding" and "more" to disrupt future possible attacks.

"The waterboarding would be fine. You could expand the laws more than waterboarding to get the information from these people," Trump said on the TODAY Show.

"If it was up to me and if we changed the laws or have the laws, waterboarding would be fine and if they want to, as long as its, you know we work within the laws. They don't work within the laws," he added.

At a Republican presidential debate on March 4 in Detroit, Trump also endorsed torture techniques "worse" than waterboarding despite being illegal.

"If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about,” he said at the debate referring to military and intelligence officials even if it breaks U.S. and international law. "They won't refuse, they're not gonna refuse me," he said.

Former top military officials came out and said that members of the military would not conduct illegal activity.

"The waterboarding" is the only thing Trump said he would do if something like the Brussels attack happened while he was in the White House. Instead he turned to the central tenets of his campaign, insinuating that it would never happen under a Trump presidency because he would be "very, very tough on the borders." And he also mentioned his polls numbers.

Related: Belgium Attacks: Latest Updates on the Deadly Explosions

"You know this is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart because I have been talking about it more than anybody else, and it's why I’m probably number one in the polls, because I say we have to have strong border, we have to be very vigilant and careful who we allow into our country," Trump said.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton also weighed in on TODAY.

"It's unrealistic to say we're going to completely shut down our borders to everyone. That would stop commerce, for example, and that's not in anybody's interest," she told Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer in her first interview since the attack.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz held a press availability to offer his reaction. Striking a similar tone to Trump on immigration, he blamed a "failed" immigration policy and said the same thing could happen in the U.S. with the admittance of Syrian refugees.

“It is time for us to implement serious vetting,” he said. “When you don’t define the enemy we don’t have designs to keep them out.”

But he said Trump is "wrong" to believe that U.S. should "retreat from NATO."

"It would be a major victory for ISIS," Cruz said.

In a statement released prior to his press conference, Cruzsuggested that law enforcement officials start monitoring Muslims in the U.S. to prevent similar attacks at home.

"We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized," he said.

Cruz's campaign said in a separate statement that creating divisions for monitoring Muslim communities are not a radical idea since law enforcement already have divisions dedicated to dealing with neighborhood threats "like drugs" and "organized crime."

Related: Cruz Proposes Law Enforcement 'Patrol and Secure Muslim Neighborhoods'

The statement reads, "We know what is happening with these isolated Muslim neighborhoods in Europe. If we want to prevent it from happening here, it is going to require an empowered, visible law enforcement presence that will both identify problem spots and partner with non-radical Americans who want to protect their homes."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich responded to Cruz's proposal saying that the senator's focus is misdirected.

"We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with radical Islam," he said. "Just because you happen to be a Muslim doesn’t mean that you are a radicalized person who wants to destroy somebody in the West."

The Ohio governor, however, did call for a halt on Syrian refugees entering the U.S., even though there's no evidence that the attackers in Brussels entered the country by posing as Syrian refugees.

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders was the last candidate to react to the news, Full%20Sanders%20statement%20on%20attacks%20in%20Belgium:%20pic.twitter.com/61Pn71tCAd

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