Exactly one month ago, Donald Trump held a bizarre press conference in which he tried to defend his response to racist violence in Charlottesville. Asked why it took so long for him to denounce white supremacists, the president had an explanation in mind.
“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement,” Trump said, adding, “[Y]ou don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts…. I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts…. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts…. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts.”
And yet, there was Trump this morning, responding with lightning speed this morning to the detonation of a device aboard a London subway train, tweeting, “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!” Whether the president had Scotland Yard’s permission to share those details is unclear. (The message also implicitly suggested law enforcement officials in the U.K. hadn’t done enough.)
The American president quickly added, in the hopes of exploiting the violence to advance his agenda, “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific – but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” What he was proposing in practical terms was unclear.
Our allies were not impressed.
Britain’s Prime Minister rebuked President Donald Trump Friday after he tweeted that “a loser terrorist” responsible for a subway train blast had been “in the sights” of London’s Metropolitan Police.
Asked whether Trump knew something that the British public did not, PM Theresa May said: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”
Her former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, went further, describing Trump’s comment as “so unhelpful from leader of our ally and intelligence partner.”
It’d be less jarring if this were the first time Trump responded badly to an attack in London, but it’s not.
In early June, following a terrorist attack in London, Trump responded by talking about his Muslim ban, feuding needlessly with the city’s mayor, and for some reason, throwing in a complaint about gun control.
In both instances, the American president reacted first and received detailed information second. Trump has obviously told a breathtaking number of lies, but perhaps the most ridiculous of all was his declaration, “I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.”