Trump mocks London’s mayor and touts his own Muslim ban in wake of attack

“We must stop being politically correct.”

A Police officer clears people away from the area near London Bridge after an incident in central London, late Saturday, June 3, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/ Matt Dunham
A Police officer clears people away from the area near London Bridge after an incident in central London, late Saturday, June 3, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/ Matt Dunham

Within hours of an attack in downtown London that left six civilians dead and 48 hospitalized, President Trump responded on Twitter by invoking the need for a “Travel Ban.”

Shortly after 10 p.m. local time, a van drove onto the sidewalk along London Bridge, striking pedestrians on the walkway. At least one assailant got out of the van, armed with a knife, and ran into Borough Market, a bustling food-and-drink spot nearby. According to police, officers arrived within minutes and shot and killed three attackers. Authorities do not believe there are any still at large.

Trump’s first two tweets came not long after the news broke.

Trump’s first impulse, it seems, was not to offer solidarity and support to London but to cite the attack as evidence for the need for his executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. He amended the order in March, cutting the number down from seven to six; Iraq was removed from the list.

His original order, which sparked massive protests at airports across the country when it was announced in January, was partially blocked almost immediately by a federal judge; Trump’s amended order was rejected by a federal appeals court in May. Two days ago, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to revive the ban.

Trump’s use of the word “ban” is a telling one, as he and representatives of his administration have insisted that the executive order was not a ban. Their attempt to frame the Muslim ban as something other than a ban is key to their defense of its supposed constitutionality.

The ACLU, which has been fighting the ban in court, jumped on Trump’s choice of words on Twitter: “Glad we both agree that a ban is a ban.”

Eleven hours after his first two posts, Trump resumed tweeting.

It is not clear where Trump got the “7 dead” number, as reports so far place the number at six. As for the quote from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, it appears Trump is referring to an interview Khan did with the BBC. Khan was not telling Londoners to shrug off the attacks; rather, he was alerting them to plans to increase police presence in the city in their wake.

Khan referred to the attackers as “cowardly terrorists” and advised the public that “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, and all of us, need to do is make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be. I’m reassured that we’re one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city in the world.”

Armed British police officers walk with a detection dog within a cordoned off area after an attack in the London Bridge area of London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Armed British police officers walk with a detection dog within a cordoned off area after an attack in the London Bridge area of London, Sunday, June 4, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Khan has not responded to Trump’s tweet because, according to his spokesperson, he’s a little preoccupied: “He 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.”

Trump’s final tweet on the matter, so far:

While Trump was moved to fire off five tweets in 14 hours about the London attacks, it took him three days to respond to last week’s fatal stabbing in Portland, Oregon, in which two people were killed after attempting to intervene when a man aimed an anti-Muslim rant at two women on a train. The Portland attack took place on a Friday afternoon; Trump did not tweet about it until Monday, and the tweet came not from his personal account but the official POTUS handle.

As the Washington Post noted, “Compared with violent incidents that were a function of Islamic terrorism, the demure @POTUS tweet was remarkably late”:

Trump took only about 14 hours to respond to the terrorist attacks in Manchester last week, though that was while he was traveling overseas. By contrast, when a man shot two Indian men at a bar in Kansas apparently under the mistaken assumption that they were Muslim, it took Trump more than six days to comment on the killing.

Surely in an effort to demonstrate that you can’t let terrorism derail your plans, Trump is spending today exactly the same way he spent yesterday: Golfing at his club in Virginia.