The acting U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom countered President Trump’s Twitter criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan while Trump doubled down on his original reaction to Khan’s quotes about the weekend terror attack on London Bridge and Borough Market.
“The situation is still unfolding and I would ask all Londoners and visitors to our city to remain calm and vigilant. Please report anything suspicious to the police, but only call 999 in an emergency,” Khan said in a statement early after the late-night attack. “We don’t yet know the full details, but this was a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts.”
Khan followed up with an interview on TV Sunday morning, in which the mayor said Thursday’s general election in the country should go forward despite the attack.
“There aren’t words to describe the grief and anger that our city will be facing today. I’m appalled and furious that these cowardly terrorists would deliberately target innocent Londoners,” he said. “There can be no justification for the acts of these terrorists and I am quite clear that we will never let them win.”
“My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today. You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this,” Khan added. “We are the safest global city in the world. You saw last night as a consequence of our planning, our preparation, the rehearsals that take place, the swift response from the emergency services tackling the terrorists and also helping the injured.”
The trio of terrorists were shot while stabbing people at the market within eight minutes of the first call that their van was striking people on London Bridge. Seven were killed and 48 injured; the wounded included a rookie transit officer stabbed in the face while fighting terrorists with his baton. “The bravery he showed was outstanding and makes me extremely proud,” said British Transport Police Chief Constable Paul Crowther, who added the officer was “seriously unwell.”
Trump tweeted after Khan’s statements, “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'”
Back around Inauguration Day, Trump picked New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to be the next ambassador to the UK, but he has not been confirmed by the Senate because Trump never formally submitted the nomination. After Trump’s tweet, Acting Ambassador Lewis Lukens issued a three-part tweet under the U.S. Embassy London account.
“It is with a heavy heart I offer my condolences and support to the people of the United Kingdom. America grieves with you,” Lukens said. “The response from emergency services, law enforcement & officials in Ldn–as well as ordinary Londoners–has been extraordinary.”
“I commend the strong leadership of the @MayorofLondon as he leads the city forward after this heinous attack,” he added, linking a tweet to video of Khan’s full statement.
A spokesperson for Khan said the mayor “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.”
This morning, Trump tweeted, “Dems are taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors. They are nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS! Want approvals.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, fired back, “#FakeNews. Your lack of nominations is the problem. There are only 5 political ambassadors pending. All in process. 1 ready for a floor vote.”
Trump added: “Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!”
Trump’s first tweet after the attack advocated his executive order blocking travel from a handful of Muslim-majority countries, which lost at the appellate level and is headed to the Supreme Court. “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 said.
“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!” the president then added. “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.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) responded with a statement: “President Trump’s tweets were inappropriate and do not reflect the views of most Americans.”
“These attackers did not strike London because of ‘political correctness.’ They did not sow violence and hatred because Britons, Americans, and many others insist on acknowledging the equal dignity of every person among us,” Hoyer said. “They struck out of a deep-seated belief that they can break our spirits and cause us to abandon our highest values. So let us not give these terrorists what they seek; let us fight fear with hope, extremism with common sense, and violence with the joined hands of common purpose.”
This morning, Trump criticized his Justice Department over the revised travel ban, which was intended to clear court muster but was likewise blocked. That removed Iraq from the list of affected countries and also protected green card holders.
“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN! The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.,” he tweeted. “The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court – & seek much tougher version!”
“In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!”