Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said he does not support restricting travel or immigration to the United States by Muslims.
"I think what's important is that we are able to make a judgment about the people that are coming into the country, and so no, I do not support a blanket type rejection of any particular group of people," Tillerson said during a Senate confirmation hearing.
President-elect Donald Trump vowed to temporarily ban Muslim travel and immigration to the country after a wave of terrorist attacks carried out or inspired by the Islamic State in Europe and the United States.
He has since walked back that promise, instead saying he would ban immigration from countries where terrorism is prevalent.
Tillerson said the United States must win the war against Islamic terrorists not just on the battlefield, but must triumph in the war of ideas.
"One of our greatest allies in this war is going to be the moderate voices of Muslim, people of the Muslim faith who speak from their perspective and their rejection of that representation of what is otherwise a great faith," he said.
Tillerson said he would require more information on how the government would approach constructing a registry of Muslims before he would consider lending his support to creating one.
"I would need to have a lot more information around how such an approach would even be constructed. And if it were a tool for vetting, then it probably extends to other people as well — other groups that are threats to the U.S.," he said.
Trump has not formally called for the creation of a database of Muslims living in the United States. However, he has expressed his openness to the possibility — though in somewhat unclear terms — when questioned about the prospect by reporters.
Asked in November during an appearance on ABC News' "This Week" whether he would rule out such a database, he said "No, not at all."
"We want to go with watchlists. We want to go with databases. And we have no choice," Trump said.