Obama administration spokesman Josh Earnest responded to Donald Trump’s comments on Muslim immigration in a White House press conference. Referring to Trump as a "carnival barker" with “fake hair,” who engaged in “outright lies,” Earnest said of the Republican presidential frontrunner, "The Trump campaign for months now has had a dustbin of history-like quality to it."
On December 7, Trump released a statement that called for America to undertake a “total and complete” ban on the entry of foreign Muslims. Critics were vocal within his own party, including Jeb Bush, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Ted Cruz. Piling on were Democrats Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In a highly unusual step, Earnest said "The fact is what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president." Noting that every president must take an oath to "preserve, protect and defend" the U.S. Constitution," Earnest said, Trump would thus not qualify.
But Earnest was also unstinting in his criticism of Republicans. Saying that all of the Republican presidential contenders have signed on to a pledge to support the eventual nominee, Earnest said "For Republican candidates for president to stand by their pledge to support Mr. Trump, that in and of itself is disqualifying." Earnest added, "The question now is about the rest of the Republican Party and whether or not they're going to be dragged into the dustbin of history with him. And right now the current trajectory is not very good."
Among the Republicans cited by Earnest were House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who a reporter once alleged had compared himself as white supremacist David Duke "without the baggage." Earnest also mentioned that House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed to vote for Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee. However, Earnest omitted that Ryan had also rebuked Trump for the comments on Muslims. Ryan also said the comments are "not who we are as a party" and unconstitutional.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also condemned Donald Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. "I don't agree," said Priebus. "We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values."
Secretary of State John Kerry did not refer directly to Trump. However, in a press conference in Paris he said "I would simply say that nondiscrimination and equal treatment are a pillar of not just American values but of our immigration and our admission policies in this country and the State Department remains totally committed to treating all religions with respect and without discrimination."
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on December 8, also without naming Trump, that the leading Republican’s comments put U.S. national security at risk. "Anything that bolsters ISIL's narrative and pits the United States against the Muslim faith is certainly not only contrary to our values but contrary to our national security."
Cook said that the Obama administration is cooperating with Muslim governments around the globe, adding "We want to, in essence, take the fight to ISIL (ed. Note: Islamic State) with the help of Muslims around the world."