Rep. Peter King suggested in a meeting Thursday with President-elect Donald Trump that the federal government begin a Muslim-surveillance program like the one NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly launched after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
King (R-Seaford) told reporters after the discussion at Trump Tower in Manhattan that he relayed recommendations for “the Justice Department and the FBI be more leaning forward when it comes to investigating Islamist terrorism.”
He said, “I suggested a program similar to what Commissioner Kelly did here in New York, and that we can’t worry about political correctness.”
King, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, met with Trump for about an hour. He said they were joined by Vice President-elect Mike Pence; Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), Trump’s pick to lead the CIA; Suffolk County Republican chairman John Jay LaValle; and Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, the congressman’s daughter.
King told Newsday he did not ask Trump’s reaction specifically to a Muslim-surveillance program, but said the president-elect agreed with his views that the country should be more aggressive on terrorism and less concerned with political correctness.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not respond to a request for comment on a nationwide Muslim-surveillance program.
The New York program has generated criticism.
The inspector general for the NYPD found earlier this year that police broke intelligence-gathering rules in monitoring Muslim community members at mosques and other locations in and around New York City.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a legal challenge, denouncing the program as religious profiling.
“Dragnet surveillance of Muslims is unconstitutional and un-American,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, said Thursday.
Austin Finan, a spokesman for Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said “counterproductive and unjust policing strategies will alienate important partners in the fight against terrorism and only make us less safe.”
King told Newsday, “I’m not talking about breaking into people’s homes. I’m talking about informers and sources on the ground, and to me, that is perfectly legitimate.”
The congressman said he was not meeting with the president-elect about employment in the administration.
LaValle also said he did not discuss a position with Trump, noting that the group spoke primarily about “national security and international security.”
King said Trump was interested in the politics of Long Island.
“He wanted to know every block and every corner of my district and how they voted, who voted for him and who didn’t, how I did and how he did,” King said.
King and LaValle were active campaign surrogates for Trump, appearing for him at fundraisers and in national television interviews.
Also Thursday, Trump named GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana, as his nominee for secretary of the interior. He said the former Navy SEAL “has built one of the strongest track records on championing regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development and public land issues.”
Trump also named David Friedman, founding partner of a Manhattan-based law firm and an adviser to the president-elect on U.S.-Israeli relations, as his choice for ambassador to Israel.
Meanwhile, Trump announced the addition of Nassau County GOP chairman Joseph Mondello to his transition team executive committee.
Mondello said in an interview that while he didn’t know what his transition role will be, “I’m happy to support the president-elect any way he deems fit. I am proud and honored that he would select me.”
Mondello, also a former New York State GOP chairman, was an early supporter of Trump. Mondello said he hasn’t spoken with Trump since Election Day, but “I’m going to call him tomorrow to schedule an appointment. I figured I would give him a little bit of time to catch up to himself, but I see other people are going in and seeing him so I figure I might as well, too.”
With Paul LaRocco