Trump Uses London Attack to Criticize Mayor, Promote Ban
U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize London’s mayor and renew his calls to ban travel from some Muslim-majority countries, after a terror attack that killed seven people in the heart of the U.K. capital on Saturday night.
“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’”, Trump said at about 7:30 a.m. Washington time on Sunday. Shortly after the attacks, and before they were confirmed as terrorist events, he’d said that “we need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety,” a reference to his executive order that has been blocked by the courts.
Another Trump tweet said, “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!” It was not clear if Trump was arguing that the U.K.’s strict gun-control laws don’t prevent terror, or was trying to make a different point.
Trump’s eagerness to turn the London attack to domestic political advantage will put further pressure on U.S.-U.K. relations, which have been strained as Prime Minister Theresa May tries to balance a historic alliance with the need to respond to the president’s often-inflammatory actions. Last month, May complained openly about leaks by U.S. security agencies of details of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing, which British police said hurt their investigation.
Still, May has so far taken a softer approach to Trump than some of her European counterparts, and was notably absent from a joint statement last week condemning his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. The president has been invited to make a state visit to London this year, a proposal that has become a subject of debate in the run-up to the June 8 British general election.
Wes Streeting, an opposition Labour lawmaker fighting to retain his London seat, said the state visit should not go ahead and Trump “owes Londoners an apology.”
“It is unbelievable and unforgivable that the President of the United States of America should launch such a self-serving and cheap political attack on London’s Mayor,” Streeting said. “Our country has always stood shoulder to shoulder with America in the wake of terrorist attacks.”
Trump’s travel-ban comment was his first reaction on Twitter to the London attack. He followed it about eight minutes later with a more conventional expression of concern: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U.K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”
Meanwhile, Trump’s Sunday missive about Khan — an apparent reference to a statement in which he urged Londoners to take the presence of extra police in their stride — is not the first criticism of the mayor by a member of the Trump camp. In March, Trump’s son Donald Jr. reacted to a past comment by Khan that terror preparedness is “part and parcel of living in a great global city,” with a tweet that said “you have to be kidding me?!”
Elected in 2016, Khan is the son of immigrants from Pakistan and is the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital. He’s used his position to contrast London’s multicultural identity with Trump’s proposals, saying earlier this year that “at a time when people want to build walls, we should build bridges.”
British police continue to investigate Saturday night’s attack on London Bridge and nearby Borough Market, an area of bars and restaurants adjacent to one of the city’s busiest rail hubs. Three suspects were shot dead by police after they attacked pedestrians, first in a speeding van and then with knives on foot.