Bush slams Trump's Muslim ban in rare media interview

Bush slams Trump's Muslim ban in rare media interview

2 min read
27 February, 2017
Former US President George W. Bush has offered a tacit criticism of his successor Donald Trump, in rare public comments about some of the new president's most controversial policies.
Trump tried to ban entry to the US from people of seven Muslim-majority countries [Getty]

Former US President George W. Bush has offered tacit criticisms of current leader Donald Trump, in rare public comments regarding politics and the media.

The 43rd president warned on Monday against Trump's controversial travel ban, arguing the policy would alienate Muslims.

"I am for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law," Bush told NBC's "Today" programme.

"I think it's very important for all of us to recognise one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want. A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely," he added.

Bush warned that if the US freezes out other countries and turns inward, that would only make it more difficult to fight the Islamic State group and other extremists.

"I think it's very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we're in retreat," he said.

Soon after taking office last month, Trump banned entry to the US from people of seven Muslim-majority countries, triggering protests and prompt appeals to the courts.

Bush also spoke about alleged links between Trump's campaign team and the Russian government.

"I think we all need answers... I'm not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered," he said.

Media focus on alleged Russian tampering in the US election against Democrat Hillary Clinton saw Trump decry critical broadcasters and newspapers of spreading "fake news".

Bush - who had his own battles with the press while in office - also rejected Trump's assertion that the media are the "enemy of the American people".

"I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account," Bush said.

Trump's inflammatory remarks have been criticised as authoritarian, but the media remains a popular whipping boy for his supporters.

Influential Trump aide Steve Bannon is fond of referring to the media as the "opposition party".

Bush responded to that sentiment by saying: "Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power."

Bush also described Trump's comments as undercutting the US' efforts to promote democracy and the free press abroad.