US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (25 January) he is open to bringing back waterboarding as an interrogation technique.

In an interview with ABC News' David Muir, Trump said he will depend on the advice of his Cabinet on whether to reinstate the practice.

"I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group. And if they don't want to do, that's fine. If they do wanna do, then I will work toward that end. I want to do everything within the bounds of what you're allowed to do legally," he said. "But do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works."

Trump told Muir that the US is "not playing on an even field" with terrorists, such as the Islamic State (Isis).

"When they're chopping off the heads of our people, and other people. When they're chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East - when Isis is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I'm concerned, we have to fight fire with fire," the president said.

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While he relies on members of his Cabinet for advice, Trump said he has also spoken to "people at the highest level of intelligence" who told him that waterboarding and torture "absolutely" works.

If Trump were to reinstate waterboarding as an interrogation technique, he would be violating a 2015 US law and go against the view of his Defence Secretary James Mattis, CNN noted.

Trump's CIA director, Mike Pompeo, told senators earlier in January that he would not sanction the use of torture, but later said he would consider reinstating waterboarding under certain circumstances.

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo has been confirmed as CIA director Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pompeo said he would "absolutely not" restart the agency's use of enhanced interrogation tactics that are not within the Army Field Manual. "Moreover, I can't imagine I would be asked that by the President-elect," Pompeo said during his confirmation hearing.

However, he later amended this stance, adding in a series of written responses to members of the Senate intelligence committee that he would be open to making changes to the Army Field Manual, CNN reported.

"Reconstituting this appalling programme would compromise our values, our morals and our standing as a world leader —this cannot happen," California Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, said in a statement. "We can't base national security policies on what works on television — policies must be grounded in reality."