POLITICO, By Nolan D. McCaskill and Rebecca Morin, 6 June 2017
President Donald Trump on Sunday called for an end to political correctness, suggesting that terrorism “will only get worse” if the U.S. doesn’t “get smart” and reinstate his administration’s travel ban.
“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,” the president warned in a tweet Sunday morning.
Trump’s initial response to Saturday’s terror attack in London — which claimed seven lives, left dozens more hospitalized and ended with police shooting dead three attackers — urged the courts to reinstate the travel ban.
“We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” the president wrote Saturday night, minutes before assuring London and the United Kingdom that the U.S. will do whatever it can to assist in wake of the attack.
On Sunday, though, the president took a different tack, stoking fears from his personal Twitter account while also criticizing London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, and noting “we are not having a gun debate right now … because they used knives and a truck!”
Authorities said a white van mounted the pavement on the London Bridge on Saturday night, hitting a number of pedestrians. The van later drove to Borough Market, a venue with many bars and restaurants on the south side of the river Thames and very close to London Bridge. The attackers jumped out of the van and stabbed a number of people but were shot dead by police within eight minutes of the first emergency call.
Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, told the BBC that no words could describe the grief and anger London feels.
“I’m appalled and furious that these cowardly terrorists would deliberately target innocent Londoners and bystanders enjoying their Saturday night. There can be no justification for the acts of these terrorists, and I’m quite clear that we will never let them win, nor will we allow them to cower our city of Londoners,” Khan said.
He added that Londoners will see an increased police presence over the next few days but said there’s no reason to be alarmed by that.
Although, after the Westminster attack, Khan said he believed that the threat of terror attacks are “part and parcel of living in a big city” and encouraged Londoners to be vigilant to combat dangers.
Trump, who drew criticism for promoting a Drudge Report tweet that NBC’s “Nightly News” refused to share because “the info is unconfirmed,” mischaracterized Khan’s remark Sunday.
“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” Trump said. His social media director, Dan Scavino, urged Khan to “WAKE UP!!!!”
Khan criticized Trump during the U.S. presidential campaign, tweeting in May 2016 that his “ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe” and “risks alienating mainstream Muslims.”
Later Sunday, Trump spoke at Ford’s Theatre in Washington. He offered “unwavering support” to the British while reiterating his determination to put an end to such attacks. “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,” the president said, according to pool reports.
During 2015-16, candidate Trump proposed a “Muslim ban,” but his administration has maintained that its executive order is not a ban on Muslims entering the country but rather a national security directive to keep Americans safe.
After a rampage at a casino in Manila, Philippines, early Friday, Trump labeled it a terrorist attack. But authorities said the incident was likely a robbery attempt.
Trump has often tweeted following terrorist attacks. In April, the president wrote that a shooting on Paris’ Champs Elysées “will have a big effect on presidential election.” Authorities said the attack was “likely terrorist-related.” And following an attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England,
Trump called the attacker an “evil loser” during remarks while he was overseas in Bethlehem.
Trump has asked the Supreme Court to revive his complex and controversial travel ban executive order, which has been repeatedly blocked by lower courts — even after the administration introduced a revised order in March.
The Justice Department on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily lift injunctions barring officials from carrying out Trump’s directive to suspend visa issuance to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries and halt the flow of refugees to the U.S. from across the globe. The high court could review the legality of the travel ban this fall.
Republicans in Congress, however, are skeptical about the fate of the ban. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Sunday that she disagrees with the president’s view that the travel ban needs to be enacted now.
“I think that the travel ban is too broad, and that is why it has been rejected by the courts,” she told “Face the Nation” on CBS. “The president is right, however, that we need to do a better job of vetting individuals who are coming from war-torn countries into our nation, but I do believe that the very broad ban that he has proposed is not the right way to go.”
Asked on “Fox News Sunday” whether the Supreme Court would reinstate Trump’s travel ban, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) couldn’t say.
“I don’t know what the court will decide,” he said.
Trump spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May by phone on Saturday, according to a readout from the White House, which said the president “offered his condolences” and “praised the heroic response of police and other first responders.”
May said Saturday that the attack was being treated as a “potential act of terrorism,” which she confirmed on Sunday.
“We believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face as terrorism breeds terrorism, and perpetrators are inspired to attack not only on the basis of carefully constructed plots after years of planning and training — and not even as lone attackers radicalized online — but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack,” May said. “We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are.”
Jeremy Corbyn, head of the opposition Labour Party, refrained from campaigning for this week’s election for part of the day, but came out swinging in the evening. He accused May and her government of trying to protect Britain “on the cheap.”
“You cannot protect the public on the cheap,” Corbyn said Sunday. “The police and security services must get the resources they need not 20,000 police cutsI”
The Anne Frank Center, a nonprofit that focuses on civil and human rights activism, condemned Trump’s first response Saturday, tweeting “SHAME ON YOU … for dedicating your first Tweet after tonight’s #LondonBridge attack to your immoral #MuslimBan.”
“Terrorism includes violence that destroys people, as well as prejudice that destroys people’s souls. The response cannot be a #MuslimBan,” the center said Sunday.
James Randerson contributed to this report.