Carl Higbie, a retired U.S. Navy Seal, and Aaron Klein, the Jerusalem bureau chief of the “alt-right” Breitbart News, were identified in emails to the press as being able to give interviews on behalf of Stephen Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial chief adviser and former head of Breitbart. The emails were sent by publicist Maria Sliwa, who claims not to be working for Bannon. While it’s not clear who hired Sliwa, she is attempting to mitigate the negative media coverage depicting Bannon as a racist and an anti-Semite, according to The Wrap.
While Higbie was being identified as an interview source for the press, he was making his own negative headlines. During an interview with Megyn Kelly on the November 16th edition of Fox News’ “The Kelly File,” Higbie cited the Japanese internment camps during World War II as precedent for creating a registry for immigrants coming into the United States from Muslim countries. In response to Kelly’s comment that she had been reading that Trump’s advisers are considering drafting a proposal for a registry, Higbie said:
Yeah, and to be perfectly honest, it is legal. They say it will hold constitutional muster. I know the ACLU is gonna challenge it, but I think it’ll pass, and we’ve done it with Iran back — back a while ago. We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will, maybe —
In the following exchange, Kelly pressed Higbie on using the example of Japanese internment:
KELLY: Come on. You’re not — you’re not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope.
HIGBIE: No, no, no. I’m not proposing that at all, Megyn, but what I am saying is we need to protect America from —
KELLY: You know better than to suggest that. I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that gets people scared, Carl.
HIGBIE: Right, but it’s — I’m just saying there is precedent for it, and I’m not saying I agree with it, but in this case I absolutely believe that a regional based —
KELLY: You can’t be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the president-elect is gonna do.
HIGBIE: Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it.
Backlash to Higbie’s comments has already started. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) released a statement calling on Trump to “denounce the comments” and pointing out the dark history of Japanese-American internment:
The imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II, including my parents and grandparents, is widely understood to be one of the darkest chapters in American history. More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were accused of no crimes and received no trial before being relocated, interned, and stripped of their possessions. I am horrified that people connected to the incoming Administration are using my family’s experience as a precedent for what President-elect Trump could do.