Trump points to travel ban after reports of London attacks

(AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump argued in favor of his controversial travel ban as London authorities responded to reports of a string of attacks Saturday night.

One tweet read: “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!”

At least seven died Saturday night after a van veered off the road and barreled into pedestrians on busy London Bridge. Three men fled the van with large knives and attacked people at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market, police and witnesses said. The attack unfolded quickly, and police said officers had shot and killed the three attackers within eight minutes.

Trump began tweeting about the incidents an hour or so after initial news reports. First, he retweeted a Drudge Report item about the attacks, then provided his own message about the travel ban.

A few minutes later Trump tweeted a message of support for Londoners: “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!”

Earlier this week, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to immediately reinstate its ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries and refugees from anywhere in the world. The administration argues that the U.S. will be safer if the policy is put in place.

Lower courts have blocked the Trump policy, citing various reasons including statements Trump made during the 2016 campaign. The legal fight pits the president’s authority over immigration against what lower courts have said is a policy that purported to be about national security but was intended to target Muslims.

Trump later called Prime Minister Theresa May to offer condolences. The White House said the president “praised the heroic response of police and other first responders and offered the full support of the United States government in investigating and bringing those responsible for these heinous acts to justice.”

The State Department issued a statement condemning them as “cowardly.”

“The United States stands ready to provide any assistance authorities in the United Kingdom may request,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“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,” she said.

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