Does Donald Trump Think His Top Foreign Policy Adviser Is Muslim?

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajhanson/23607005191/in/photolist-BY55bT-C43LS1-C44xHU-B8XqB6-BwRoy8-C6moYx-C6nvnx-BVLSUS-BY548F-C6n9Ac-BVLkR9-BwR8Sz-BVLRLQ-B8XEBv-C8qQ41-CvBrTT-C1tGhs-D9kJ4u-bBVJJs-xJoWH6-B8QYG3-BDe7mu-BY58ip-C44aXE-B8RkK5-BVLubL-36gSM9-BwR4HT-BwR5Ni-C44eWG-BY5fdr-yoLmGK-yCXPEo-yoEqTo-xJfKqd-7xRa1j-BKY8tP-8Ln1aE-DtsJTC-x4nrqm-tw8QHm-DbUncv-DgSr6S-CmF6b9-CS4WAE-CKFSM6-DjbChR-DjbzUp-DbUkec-CS4Z2w">Alex Hanson</a>/Flickr

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In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday morning, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump twice failed to correct host Brian Kilmeade’s mistaken assertion that one of his top foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, is Muslim.

“Donald, we just talked to Walid Phares,” Kilmeade said. “We talked to Dr. Zuhdi Jasser yesterday, Ambassador Khalilzad—he’s done great things for this country. What do all three have in common? They’re Muslims.”

“Yes, that’s true,” Trump said.

A few minutes later, Kilmeade returned to the topic of Phares, who, Trump announced yesterday, is advising his campaign. “A lot of people listening right now might be misinterpreting your message in the past and currently that you have a problem with Muslims—you don’t have a problem with Muslims,” Kilmeade said. “In fact you just hired one, Walid Phares, to work for you.” Again, Trump appeared to agree.

But Phares is not Muslim. In fact, he is about as far from being a Muslim as one can get. As Adam Serwer reported five years ago, Phares was once a top political official in a sectarian Christian militia in Lebanon that targeted Muslims:

During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslim and Druze factions, according to former colleagues. Phares, they say, advocated the hard-line view that Lebanon’s Christians should work toward creating a separate, independent Christian enclave. A photo obtained by Mother Jones shows him conducting a press conference in 1986 for the Lebanese Forces, an umbrella group of Christian militias that has been accused of committing atrocities.

Later in the interview, Kilmeade offered a correction, noting that Phares is actually a Christian. But Trump was twice asked specifically about Phares’ religious identity and never pushed back.

Maybe it was a lousy earpiece?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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