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On today's episode of CBS' "Face the Nation," host Margaret Brennan pressed White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Donald Trump's history of anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The key exchange:

  • Brennan: "As a candidate, the President called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. He said Islam hates us. This kind of language in the past leads to these questions of why isn't the president now directly using that megaphone to condemn it.
  • Mulvaney: "Well, then ... take the words and put them in one category and take the actions and put them in another. Something the president doesn't get hardly any credit for or any attention to is the work he's done in defense of religious minorities all around the world up to and including Muslims in the Middle East. ... So I hear what folks say, 'Oh, Donald Trump said this during the campaign.' Look at what we've done while we've been here. I don't think anybody could say that the president is anti-Muslim."
  • Brennan: "Well, the president's tweeting now about a TV host who was suspended for anti-Muslim rhetoric. So it's I think a fair question to ask you about this."

Behind the scenes: We often hear this exact line from administration officials as justification for Trump's rhetoric: "Take the words and put them in one category and take the actions and put them in another." A senior European government official told me former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis often used the same line privately with allies to try to assuage their concerns about Trump.

  • But Brennan made a painfully obvious point that still bears repeating: Trump's words matter.

Go deeper

Updated 28 mins ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Iraqis dressed in traditional outfits greet Pope Francis upon his arrival at Erbil airport, the capital of the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, on March 7. Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting northern areas of Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.