Aaron Rupar/Think Progress
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
Trump’s tweet takes out of context a comment Khan made following an attack in London on Saturday that left seven dead and dozens wounded. During a TV interview Sunday morning, Khan said, “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’s “no reason to be alarmed” comment clearly referred to the extra police presence in London, not the weekend’s attacks themselves. But on Sunday, Trump distorted Khan’s words to suggest he’s is taking a laissez-faire approach to acts of violence.
At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
Trump’s tweet was echoed by his White House social media director.
.@MayorofLondon- refer to below tweet 13 months ago, after you criticized ... now President @realDonaldTrump --- and WAKE UP!!!! https://t.co/RzGOHny37L— Dan Scavino Jr. (@Scavino45) June 4, 2017
And Trump’s mischaracterization of Khan was amplified by his favorite morning TV show, Fox & Friends, which devoted a segment on Monday to criticizing the London mayor. (Trump live-tweeted another part of Monday’s show.)
Here's a commentator on @foxandfriends this morning saying London's mayor used a "weasel phrase" in saying "you don't need to be alarmed." pic.twitter.com/Vhplf8Xlvk— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) June 5, 2017
The president’s decision to smear the mayor of London in the immediate aftermath of an attack on his city was widely condemned. Khan‘s spokesperson responded with a statement saying that 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.”
Later Sunday, Lew Lukens, chargé d’affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy in London, contradicted Trump and tweeted that London’s response to the attack was “extraordinary” while praising Khan’s leadership.
I commend the strong leadership of the @MayorofLondon as he leads the city forward after this heinous attack. – LLukens 3/3 https://t.co/p4dDZuCpyO— U.S. Embassy London (@USAinUK) June 4, 2017
But instead of walking his comments back or echoing what the top American diplomat in the U.K. had to say, Trump on Monday elected to double down on smears and lies.
This isn’t the first time the Trump family has taken Khan’s words out of context in an effort to smear him. Following an attack in London in March that killed, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted this:
You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan https://t.co/uSm2pwRTjO— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 22, 2017
But when the quote is read in context, it’s clear Khan was simply encouraging Londoners to be vigilant.
“Part and parcel of living in a great global city is you have to be prepared for these sorts of things, you have to be vigilant, you have to support the police doing an incredibly hard job, you have to support the security services,” Khan said.
Khan become London’s first Muslim mayor in May 2016. As ThinkProgress wrote at the time, he triumphed “after a nasty campaign in which his opponents tried to use his faith to tie him to ‘radical’ and ‘extremist’ figures.”
Shortly after becoming mayor, Khan criticized Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, saying Trump’s “ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe — it risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays in to the hands of the extremists.”
“I want Donald Trump to come to London so I can introduce myself to him as a mainstream Muslim, very, very comfortable with Western liberal values, but also introduce him to hundreds of thousands, dare I say millions of Muslims in this country, who love being British, love being Western,” Khan added.
Trump responded by calling Khan “ignorant” and challenging him to an IQ test.
“I think they were very rude statements and, frankly, tell him I will remember those statements. They are very nasty statements,” Trump said. “When he won I wished him well. Now, I don’t care about him.”
In February, Khan publicly advocated for denying Trump a state visit, characterizing the new president’s immigration policies as “cruel” and his Muslim ban proposal as a particular outrage.
Trump used the latest attack in London to once again agitate for his Muslim ban, which is currently mired in federal courts. Instead of extending his condolences or offering help, Trump’s first public comment following Saturday’s violence in London said: “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!”