Takano called internment "one of the darkest chapters in American history"
Trump's supporter said his policies would be constitutional
Less than 24 hours removed from a series of red flag-raising comments – both on cable television and in a print publication – that suggested that World War II internment camps could serve as precedent for Donald Trump’s immigration policy, Carl Higbie joined “Erin Burnett OutFront” to expand upon his messaging.
“I don’t actually advocate for any of this,” insisted the Trump supporter, a retired Navy SEAL-turned-author. “This is something that is a huge black mark on our society and we would never want to do it again.”
However, Higbie did note on Thursday evening’s show that the US Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision ruling the exclusion order constitutional was never overturned, prompting the host to push back.
“What are you saying here?” asked Burnett.
Seated next to Higbie, guest Keith Boykin jumped in.
“He’s back-tracking, Erin,” suggested the former Clinton White House aide. “That decision that you talked about – that Korematsu decision of 1944 – even Justice Antonin Scalia said it is one of the worst decisions ever made by the United States Supreme Court … We don’t want to go back to that precedent.”
Higbie kept his messaging big picture, insisting that despite suggestions to the contrary, the President-elect would not advocate for an internment camp-style policy, and is most certainly not anti-Muslim.
Boykin asked his fellow guest to “tell that to the Muslim people,” a challenge which Higbie accepted.
Higbie stared directly into the bright lights, saying “All right, Muslim people of the world, Donald Trump is not in fear of the Muslim community.”
Still staring straight ahead, he added, “He’s in fear of the radical faction of the Muslim community that has done harm to Americans and abroad.”
Thursday’s CNN appearance came only one night after Higbie’s cross-town visit with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. That segment first raised the reference to internment camps and resulted in immediate condemnation from not only Kelly but also a Japanese-American member of Congress.
Higbie was speaking with Kelly when she asked him about reports that Trump’s transition team was drafting policies that would set up some sort of registry for immigrants from Muslim countries.
“It is legal, they say it will hold constitutional muster,” Higbie said. “We’ve done it with Iran, back a while ago, we did it during World War II with the Japanese, which, call what you will.”
Kelly interjected: “Come on, you’re not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope.”
“I’m just saying there is precedent for it, and I’m not saying I agree with it,” Higbie replied.
Kelly again appeared incredulous, saying talk like that scares Americans about what the President-elect might do.
“Look, the President needs to protect America first. And if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it,” Higbie said.
Trump’s immigration adviser and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has clarified that the registry he referred to would be a national immigration registry that would focus on people from high-risk countries, though critics say that could amount to a Muslim registry depending on how it was configured.
During World War II, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were rounded up and put into internment camps until the end of the war – a time period considered a stain on American democracy.
Thursday morning, California Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat, called on Trump to denounce the remarks from his supporter.
Takano cited his own parents’ and grandparents’ internment and called it “one of the darkest chapters in American history.”
“More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were accused of no crimes and received no trial before being relocated, interned, and stripped of their possessions,” Takano said in a statement. “I am horrified that people connected to the incoming Administration are using my family’s experience as a precedent for what President-elect Trump could do. These comments confirm many Americans’ worst fears about the Trump Administration, and they reflect an alarming resurgence of racism and xenophobia in our political discourse.”
Trump’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.