WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer sought Tuesday to stress that President Donald Trump’s priority is national security and said Americans need reminding that “the earth is a very dangerous place these days.”
The administration had released a list late Monday of 78 attacks worldwide after Trump accused the news media of not adequately covering instances of terrorism.
Many attacks on the list, including the deadly incidents in Boston, San Bernardino and Orlando, highlighted by the president in remarks Monday, were reported on extensively.
“It’s becoming too often that we’re seeing these attacks not get the spectacular attention that they deserve,” he said at a press briefing. “And I think it undermines the understanding of the threat that we face around this country.”
Spicer added, “I think what we need to do is to remind people that the earth is a very dangerous place these days, that ISIS is trying to do us harm.”
Not on the White House’s list was the Jan. 29 shooting at a Quebec City mosque involving a suspect with far-right and anti-Muslim views. The list was limited to violence linked to the Islamic State occurring between 2014 and 2016.
Asked on CNN why the president hasn’t tweeted or spoken publicly about the attack in Canada, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said, “Put us on record as always being sad about this as a senseless loss of life.”
When asked Tuesday about his charge that terrorism is underreported, Trump criticized journalists broadly.
“I understand the total dishonesty of the media better than anybody,” he said.
Trump made the remarks at a gathering of county sheriffs from around the country at the White House to discuss the challenges from immigration to opioids.
The sheriffs praised Trump for his support of law enforcement, some calling his commitment a 180-degree change from former President Barack Obama.
Trump appeared to joke to Rockwall County, Texas, Sheriff Harold Eavenson that he could “destroy” the career of a Texas state senator who is floating legislation to require conviction before law enforcement officials can receive asset forfeiture money.
“Who is the state senator? Do you want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career,” Trump said, though Eavenson declined to name the lawmaker.
Earlier Tuesday in a tweet, the president criticized “haters” who challenged his respect for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying Obama deserved similar scrutiny for his 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), spoke out against Trump’s equating of “killers” in the United States with Putin.
“I don’t know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy — yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem!” Trump tweeted.
Trump has not criticized Putin to the extent that others in his party have.
Democrats also condemned Trump for putting the United States and Putin on the same moral plane.
In an interview that aired Sunday on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” Trump reiterated his respect for Putin as a world leader before host Bill O’Reilly called the former KGB leader a “killer.”
Trump responded: “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”
Putin’s spokesman called O’Reilly’s remarks “unacceptable and offensive.”