President Donald Trump responded to the terrorist attacks in London with a string of tweets criticizing “political correctness” on anti-terror measures and advocating for his court-stymied travel ban on individuals from six Muslim-majority countries.
Trump’s used his first tweet not to express solidarity with Britain, but to lobby for his travel ban several hours after seven people were killed and at least 48 injured in a van and knife attack on London Bridge and in nearby neighborhoods.
“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety,” he tweeted.
Later, he did offer support for the people of London, but also said in a tweet: “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse.”
And Trump also criticized London Mayor Sadiq Khan for saying in a television interview that there was “no reason to be alarmed.”
Khan did use those words, but to reassure Londoners about a stepped-up police presence they might see: “No reason to be alarmed. One of things the police and all of us need to do to make sure we are as safe as we possibly can be,” Khan said.
Sunday night, Trump told a crowd at a Ford’s Theater gala that “America sends our thoughts and prayers and our deepest sympathies to the victims of this evil slaughter and we renew our resolve, stronger than ever before, to protect the United States and its allies from a vile enemy that has waged war on innocent life, and it’s gone on too long.”
“This bloodshed must end, this bloodshed will end,” said the tuxedo-clad Trump, standing on stage with his wife, first lady Melania Trump.
“As president, I will do what is necessary to prevent this threat from spreading to our shores and work every single day to protect the safety and security of our country, our communities and our people,” he said.
Critics of Trump’s tweets pushed back online and on Sunday morning talk shows, warning that harsh measures could alienate the very communities needed to detect and prevent such attacks.
A representative for Khan wrote in a statement that the mayor was busy coordinating with police, government and emergency responders and “has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police — including armed officers — on the streets.”
Former Vice President Al Gore, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said “I don’t think that a major terrorist attack like this is a time to be divisive and to criticize a mayor who’s trying to organize his city’s response to this attack.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), also on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said integration and acceptance in the United States has helped anti-terror efforts at home.
“That has not always been the case in so many of the European countries,” he said. “And I think we are seeing again the benefits of that, and that’s why it troubles me so much to see the type of tweets that the president has put out in the last 12 hours or so.”
Trump also used his tweets to attack gun-control efforts: “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck.”
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) tweeted his support for Trump’s travel ban and opposition to political correctness, saying the attack was a “wakeup call to end PC. Sup Ct must restore POTUS power to restrict entry from countries w/ many terrorists & poor security.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said in a statement that “Amazingly, with terrorism on the rise, President Trump actually proposed cutting vital anti-terrorism funding in his budget last week. He has proposed cutting anti-terrorism funds, including a 25% cut to UASI, a program that is essential to major city police departments, including New York, in their fight against terror. These proposed cuts would make us less safe.
Also on Sunday morning talk shows, administration officials and critics debated Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt called the agreement a “bad deal” and said Trump wants to reopen the accord or negotiate a better deal.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who played a role in negotiating that agreement, scoffed at that pledge. “That’s like OJ Simpson saying he’s going to go out to find the real killer. Everybody knows he isn’t going to do that because he doesn’t believe in it,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “America has unilaterally ceded global leadership on this issue,” he said.
Two members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee spoke ahead of what could be explosive testimony Thursday by fired FBI Director James Comey before the Senate.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said she’s eager to question Comey about Trump’s claim in the letter firing him that Comey had “on three separate occasions” told Trump he was “not the subject of the investigation.”
Warner, committee vice chair, said on “Face the Nation” that he wanted “to know what kind of pressure, appropriate or inappropriate, how many conversations he had with the president about this topic.” He added, “I think Jim Comey deserves to have his, you know, in effect, day in court since the president has disparaged him so much.”
With The Associated Press