NEWTON, Iowa — Donald Trump said Thursday the United States should create a database of Muslims in the country.
"Oh, I would certainly implement that — absolutely," Trump said in a brief interview with NBC News following a town hall event in Iowa on Thursday evening.
Trump said the government should use "a lot of systems, beyond databases" to track Muslims, prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country and keep the nation safe. He added that he would employ "good management procedures" to get Muslims signed up for the database, although he did not say who would need to register under such a system and what penalties they might face for refusing.
"You sign them up at different places," Trump said. "But it's all about management. Our country has no management."
Trump's campaign manager and spokeswoman have yet to respond to requests for more information and greater clarity.
These comments come nearly a week after terrorist attacks in Paris, which have sparked fears of similar violence and prompted increasingly anti-Islam rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates. In an interview with Trump published Thursday morning by Yahoo News, the Republican front-runner would not rule out taking extreme measures, such as allowing warrantless searches or requiring faith-based identification. Trump previously said he would consider closing some mosques in the United States.
"We're going to have to do things that we never did before. Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said in the Yahoo interview. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
When directly asked Thursday evening by NBC reporter Vaughn Hillyard about the possibility of a database of Muslims, Trump agreed with the idea, using the words "certainly" and "absolutely." But when asked again about this database by a swarm of reporters later in the night, Trump acted confused.
"What? Why are you asking me that question?" Trump said to one reporter following a rally. Trump then ignored a wave of follow-up questions.
"Where did you hear that?" he said to another reporter. "I don't know where you heard that."
When asked about the Yahoo interview, Trump said: "I never responded. I never responded to that question ... I never responded. I don't know who wrote it, but I never responded."
Another reporter asked Trump to explain the difference between a Muslim database in the United States and the registry of Jews that once existed in Nazi Germany.
"You tell me," Trump said. "You tell me. You tell me."