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Former President George W. Bush believes President Trump is off track by fighting the media and speaking out against Islam in speeches and in his executive immigration order.

Bush didn’t directly criticize Trump in an NBC interview on Monday, but he used his own time in office to contrast with what how the current president is using the presidency. When asked about Trump’s spats with the media, Bush said he never considered the press the “enemy of the American people,” as Trump said last week.

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Bush said. “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be vindictive and corrosive, and we need the media to call out people who abuse their power.”

He added, “It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”

NBC’s Matt Lauer read out one of Bush’s most famous speeches, when he told Muslims around the world that the United States is not at war with them in the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Trump, by contrast, has emphasized the U.S. is fighting “radical Islamic terrorism,” a term Bush was loathe to use because experts believe it confirms terrorists are true Muslims. Bush said that’s not the case.

“People who murder the innocent are not religious people,” he said. “They want to advance an ideology.”

Bush said freedom of religion, and not discriminating based on religion, are core American values.

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“It’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to worship the way they want to, or to not worship at all,” he said.

When asked if he supported Trump’s immigration ban, Bush demurred but didn’t offer an endorsement.

“I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law,” he said.



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