Washington, D.C.

Trump seizes on London attack to push for expanding a travel ban

Trump said the London subway attack had been the work of 'a loser terrorist'
President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he arrives in Ft. Myers, Fla., Sept. 14, 2017
President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he arrives in Ft. Myers, Fla., Sept. 14, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday used an unfolding terrorist attack in London to revive his push for a travel ban for people from predominantly Muslim countries, an effort that has been hampered by United States courts.

In a series of early morning Twitter posts, Trump said the London subway attack had been the work of “a loser terrorist” and suggested that those behind the assault had been “in the sights” of British authorities. The small explosion on a crowded Underground train during morning rush hour in the capital on Friday wounded at least 22 people, and police said they were treating the episode as terrorism.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack or whether the assailant or assailants had been on the radar of British intelligence, as Trump suggested. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether the president had received an intelligence briefing on the London attack or why Trump would suggest that the assailant or assailants had been known to British officials. Trump did not promptly offer condolences to the British people.

He wrote: “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist.These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” And in another post, he said: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”

The president also lashed out at ESPN on Friday in response to a black commentator recently calling Trump a white supremacist.

Both topics are touchstones for Trump’s political base and come at a time when the president needs to retain support as he works with Democrats on legislation to extend protections for young, undocumented immigrants.

Reviving his push for the travel ban and demanding an apology from ESPN, some political observers said, could help remind his voters that he is still with them and that he continues to share views on matters they care about.

While most polls show a majority of Republican voters favor some form of protection for so-called Dreamers, conservative talk radio hosts have been slamming the president for supporting legislative protections for the roughly 800,000 people shielded under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Trump has also come under fire from some conservatives for not insisting that funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico be included in any deal on DACA. The border wall was one of Trump’s core campaign promises. Trump said he would continue to push Congress to fund the wall through other legislation.

The ESPN “SportsCenter” host, Jemele Hill, called Trump a white supremacist in a Twitter post on Monday. Hill apologized for her comments in a subsequent tweet, and ESPN said Hill’s comments did not represent the sports network’s position.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, called Hill’s comments a “fireable offense” on Wednesday. Trump on Friday said ESPN is paying for Hill’s tweets by losing viewers in “RECORD numbers.”

In Trump’s other morning Twitter posts about terrorism, he said his administration had already “made more progress” against the Islamic State than President Barack Obama’s administration had in eight years. And he called for being “proactive & nasty” to fight terrorists.

He wrote: “Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner.The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”

Trump’s travel ban, proposed in January and revised in March, has faced legal challenges and drawn criticism from around the world because of concerns that it amounts to discrimination based on religion.

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