Trump criticised for using London attacks to promote his own Muslim travel ban

President attracts criticism with first responses to events in UK as more supportive tone follows call for travel ban as extra level of safety

Donald Trumps first response to the news of the London attacks was to retweet a conservative news website better known for sensationalism and partisanship than for accurate reporting.

It was unclear whether the president received any kind of intelligence briefing of his own about the attacks before he saw a tweet from the Drudge Report that said: Fears of new terror attack after van mows down 20 people on London Bridge.

That was what he passed on under his personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump.

Seventeen minutes after the Drudge tweet, White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted: National Security team has briefed @POTUS on situation at #LondonBridge and will continue to provide updates.

NBC felt the need to caution its audience about the credibility of the information the president was passing on. The channel put out its own tweet in response, saying: Pres[ident] Trump has used Twitter to share news report on London incident. We arent relaying presidents retweet, as the info is unconfirmed.

Later, the Drudge retweet disappeared from Trumps personal profile page.

A screengrab of Donald Trumps retweet of a tweet from the Drudge Report. Photograph: Twitter

Some 40 minutes after his original reflex response, Trump sent out a second tweet, making a political point from the unfolding horror in London, arguing that it added weight to his efforts to get a travel ban imposed on travellers from six predominantly Muslim countries. Trumps executive order has been blocked by a succession of courts and the matter is now before 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.

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The tweet provoked a storm of criticism from commentators who saw it as a piece of opportunism at Londons expense.

Daniel Drezner, a politics professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, responded furiously, denouncing the president as a cheap hustler occupying an office that you dont understand.

John Horgan, a psychologist and terrorist expert at Georgia State University responded to the tweet by calling Trump the Opportunist-in-Chief.

Adam Wagner, a British human rights barrister in said: Message from London: political point scoring is the absolute, LAST thing we need right now.

Eight minutes after his political point about the travel ban, Trump sent out a third, more supportive tweet, closer to a more normal response from a world leader when an ally comes under attack.

Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the UK, he wrote, we will be there WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!

Trumps second and third tweets were retweeted by the @POTUS account. The third tweet was echoed by Vice-President Mike Pence, who said: Our thoughts & prayers are w/ the victims, courageous first responders & all the people of London. As President Trump said: WE ARE WITH YOU.

Members of Congress from both parties were slower to respond but issued similar statements. The Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said: We stand resolute with our friends in London and send prayers to the victims. Terror and hate will never triumph.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said: My heart is with the people of London, the victims of this string of terrorist attacks, and their families. You are all in our prayers.

Later, as the @POTUS account retweeted safety advice for US citizens in London, state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued an official statement.

It read: The United States condemns the cowardly attacks targeting innocent civilians in London this evening. We understand UK police are currently treating these as terrorist incidents. The United States stands ready to provide any assistance authorities in the United Kingdom may request.

Our hearts are with the families and loved ones of the victims. We wish a full and quick recovery to those injured in the attacks. All Americans stand in solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/04/trump-criticised-for-using-london-attacks-to-promote-his-own-muslim-travel-ban

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