BALMEDIE, Scotland — Donald Trump has revised his proposed ban on foreign Muslims, with spokeswoman Hope Hicks saying Saturday that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee only wants to ban Muslims from countries with heavy terrorism.
Hicks said in an email that her boss took this new position — which is a dramatic scaling back of the position he first took in early December — during a policy speech nearly two weeks ago. In that speech, Trump did not mention Muslims and called for a temporary ban on "certain people coming from certain horrible — where you have tremendous terrorism in the world, you know what those places are." At the time, it appeared that Trump was expanding his ban to include more people, not limiting its scope.
The issue came up Saturday as Trump gave reporters a tour of his golf course on Scotland's eastern coast. During one of four stops along the 18-hole course, a reporter asked Trump if he would be okay with a Muslim from Scotland coming into the United States and he said it "wouldn't bother me."
Afterward, Hicks said in an email that Trump's ban would now just apply to Muslims in terror states, but she would not confirm that the ban would not apply to non-Muslims from those countries or to Muslims living in peaceful countries.
This firm new position is a dramatic deviation from those Trump took on Dec. 7, when he called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." The next day Trump said the ban would be "temporary" and have a series of exceptions, including ones for dignitaries and athletes. More recently, Trump has said that the ban and all of his policy proposals are merely suggestions open to negotiation.
Even as Trump limits which Muslims would be included in the ban, he has continued to make religion the basis of the ban. In an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Dec. 8, Trump said that customs agents or border guards would be charged with asking people: "Are you Muslim?" If the answer was yes, then that person would not be allowed into the country, Trump said.
The golf course tour concluded Trump's two-day visit to Scotland. Although many of Trump's political events come together at the last minute, this event was perhaps his most disorganized yet. Reporters who traveled to Britain for Trump's visit were told that the candidate would possibly make a stop at his course near Aberdeen on Saturday — but as of late Friday night, it was still unclear whether the event would occur. Reporters began arriving at the course early Saturday morning and hung out until Trump's helicopter landed about 2:30 p.m.
There was no formal news conference. Instead, reporters were loaded into maintenance carts and driven around the course, chasing after Trump, who was driving a golf cart and pointing out attractions along the way. The caravan stopped four times so that Trump could answer questions from reporters.
When asked about Britain's decision to leave the European Union, which has dominated the news here and around the globe, Trump said the major change will not effect the United States "if it's done properly, if we had proper leadership." He slammed President Obama for offering an opinion on the referendum, and he wouldn't comment on the renewed push for Scottish independence. Trump also told reporters that he plans to have dinner with Rupert Murdoch on Saturday night before flying home.
Three of the houses near Trump's course — which he has unsuccessfully tried to buy or seize — flew Mexican flags in protest of his visit and his controversial comments about illegal immigrants from Mexico. Before his helicopter landed, a handful of protesters sneaked onto the grounds with their own Mexican flags.
There was no application process for reporters wanting to cover the event, and the campaign barred reporters who showed up from at least three news organizations: The Washington Post, the Guardian and BuzzFeed. The Post has been barred from every event Trump has held for about two weeks, but the Guardian and BuzzFeed were both allowed to cover a news conference Trump held on Friday at his golf resort on the other side of Scotland, Trump Turnberry.