The Slatest

Rudy Giuliani Admits Trump Asked How to Implement a Muslim Ban Legally

Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters at Trump Tower on Jan. 12 in New York City.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Whatever they may say now, it turns out that President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on refugees and immigration was actually the result of his desire to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Rudy Giuliani said as much in an interview, noting that Trump asked him for help on how to implement his desired ban.

Ever since Trump signed the executive order Friday stopping the country’s refugee program for four months, and preventing entry of visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, supporters have insisted that it was incorrect to characterize the move as a ban on Muslims. “It’s not a Muslim ban,” Trump said Saturday afternoon. After all, supporters argued, several countries with huge Muslim populations were excluded from the list. (Many were also quick to point out that those excluded from the list have ties to Trump’s business interests.)

But now Giuliani has essentially admitted that Trump wanted to ban Muslims from the United States, he just knew that an outright blockade would be illegal, so he asked the former New York mayor for help.

Giuliani revealed the stark details in an interview on Fox News, where host Jeanine Pirro essentially set up what should have been a softball question: “Does the ban have anything to do with religion?” And that’s when Giuliani got into the explanation:

OK. I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So when he first announced it he said, “Muslim ban.” He called me up and said, “Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.” I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, a whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis. Not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.

Despite Giuliani’s claim that the order has no “religious basis,” that isn’t quite true considering that Trump’s measure specifically states that once the refugee program resumes, it will “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” Trump has outright said he wants to give priority to Christian refugees. He hinted as much again Sunday morning, writing on Twitter that “Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!”

In the interview, Pirro expressed surprise that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were left off the list. Giuliani said Saudi Arabia deserves the benefit of the doubt: “Saudi Arabia is going through a massive change. I think the kingdom particularly under the new prince has a real understanding that we are dealing with a massive radical Islamic terrorist problem.” And Pakistan? “Pakistan I would have to know more about,” Giuliani said. “It troubles me a little bit like it troubles you.”