Donald Trump thinks he might have supported Japanese internment camps during WWII

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After calling for a ban on Muslim immigration into the United States, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump drew comparisons to some of the darker moments in U.S. history.


In a followup interview on Monday evening, Trump came close to endorsing one of them.

Talking to Time, Trump said that he is not sure "whether he would have supported or opposed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II," an action that the United States officially apologized for almost three decades ago:

“I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer,” he said during a recent interview in his office in New York City. “I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer.”

Trump added that he believes wartime sometimes requires difficult choices. “It’s a tough thing. It’s tough,” he said. “But you know war is tough. And winning is tough. We don’t win anymore. We don’t win wars anymore. We don’t win wars anymore. We’re not a strong country anymore. We’re just so off.”

The internment of Japanese-Americans is officially a blight on U.S. history: after a decade-long grassroots movement, helped by Japanese-Americans in the House and Senate, Congress passed and President Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, formally apologizing for interning Japanese-Americans during the war and offering tax-free cash reparations.

“The internment of the individuals of Japanese ancestry was caused by racial prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership,” the legislation read (h/t Time).

Trump isn't the only one in his camp unwilling to distance himself and the campaign from one of the worst episodes in American history though.

After New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn condemned Trump's remarks, state representative Al Baldasaro, a Trump supporter, called for Horn to resign her post because what Trump said wasn't all that bad. According to a New Hampshire ABC affiliate, Baldasaro used the internment of Japanese-American as a positive example from U.S. history to bolster Trump's Muslim ban:

“What he’s saying is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps,” Baldasaro, a Marine veteran, said. “The people who attacked innocent people in Paris came through open borders. From a military mind standpoint, all Donald Trump is saying is to do what needs to be done until we get a handle on how to do background checks.”


Trump is probably going to stick with this (unlikely?) policy point: asked this morning on "Good Morning America" whether being compared to Hitler bothered him, Trump said no, blasted FDR, and said, "We will have many, many more World Trade Centers as sure as you're sitting there, our country will never be the same" if something isn't done about Muslims.

335 days until the election.

David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: