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Story highlights

Donald Trump is elaborating on his proposed ban of Muslims to the US

The GOP presidential nominee says he's focused country of origin, not religion

CNN —  

Donald Trump said his latest proposal to stop immigration “from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism” is an “expansion” of his blanket ban on Muslims, in an interview aired Sunday.

“I actually don’t think it’s a rollback. In fact, you could say it’s an expansion,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” “I’m looking now at territory. People were so upset when I used the word Muslim. Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim. Remember this. And I’m OK with that, because I’m talking territory instead of Muslim.”

Trump has not defined which countries would be included in that list of territories.

But in the interview aired Sunday, Trump refused to rule out banning individuals from top US allies like France and Germany, agreeing that “they have totally been” compromised by terrorism.

Trump’s campaign and top surrogates have insisted over the last month that the real estate mogul had backed off his December proposal to bar all foreign Muslims from the US.

Trump announced in June that as president he would “suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe, or our allies.”

But questions remained as to whether that proposal was an expansion of his proposed ban on Muslims, or a rollback.

His campaign insisted in the weeks following that declaration that Trump was pivoting away from the blanket ban he called for in December.

His spokeswoman Hope Hicks first told CNN late last month that Trump supported banning Muslims from terror states, not all Muslims, as he had said in December. Those comments came after Trump suggested he would allow a Scottish Muslim to enter the US under his latest proposal.

“It is about terrorism and not about religion. It is about Muslims from countries that support terrorism,” Trump’s finance chairman Steve Mnuchin told reporters the same day, during Trump’s trip to Scotland.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus insisted earlier this month that Trump “has pivoted” away from his blanket ban to a new policy of banning individuals from terror states.

“He has said he has changed, and he has put that position on the table and that is his position. It is not a religious test. It is a ban on immigration from countries that harbor or train terrorists,” Priebus said on CNN earlier this month.

But Trump has not once publicly disavowed his original policy proposal to ban all foreign Muslims from the US.

Trump last week in a joint interview with his vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said in response to a question about barring Muslims that he would call his ban one on “territories and terror states and terror nations.”

Pence had rejected Trump’s blanket ban on Muslims in December as “offensive and unconstitutional.” But after getting the vice presidential nod Pence said he was “very supportive” of Trump’s calls to suspend immigration from terror states.