GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE said Friday that he would not order the military to break international laws, despite calling for torture of suspected terrorists and the killing of their families.
Trump told The Wall Street Journal he would "use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters."
"I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities," he added.
His clarification comes after retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former National Security Agency and CIA director, said last week that the military would not have to follow orders that violate international law.
This week, Trump's call for torture, among other positions, prompted more than 60 Republican national security leaders and professionals to vow to work against the real estate tycoon's election in an open letter. The letter now has about 100 signatories, including those of former Cabinet officials.
But on Thursday, Trump stood by his proposals to subject suspected terrorists to torture even if it goes against the Geneva Conventions.
He pledged during the GOP debate to do things that were a “hell of a lot worse” than waterboarding and said he would authorize the military to kill family members of terrorists.
He also boasted that military leaders would listen to him.
“I’ve always been a leader,” he said. “I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.”