WH Argues Trump Wasn’t ‘Picking A Fight’ With London Mayor After Attack

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House, Monday, June 5, 2017, in Washington. Sanders discussed Trump's travel ban, health care, former FBI Director James Comey testifying to Congress and other topics. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Sanders batted back questions about President Donald Trump’s attacks against the mayor of London on Monday.

“Why is the President picking a fight with the mayor of London right after his city was hit with a terrorist attack?” ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked at the daily press briefing Monday.

Sanders responded that the Trump wasn’t.

After London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, told the city not to be alarmed by the increased police presence after a terrorist attack on Saturday left seven dead and dozens more wounded, Trump quoted him out of context on Sunday to attack him, and again on Monday.

“I don’t see that the President is picking a fight with the mayor of London at all,” Sanders replied to Karl. “I think, again, the President’s point is something he said, frankly, back — It’s been almost two years now, a year and a half ago, when the President talked about how we have to be more committed to national security.”

She added: “One of the reasons we have the travel ban here through that executive order is a focus on national security. That was the point he was trying to make.”

“But the President is saying that the mayor said there is no reason to be alarmed by the terrorist attack,” Karl said, before explaining the context of Khan’s statement. “That is not what the mayor said.”

“The President directly misrepresented what the mayor of London said,” he added.

“I don’t think that’s actually true,” Sanders replied. “I think that the media wants to spin it that way, but I think the President — ”

Karl tried again: “You think the mayor was saying there’s no reason to be alarmed by an attack on a city? You think that’s what he was saying?”

“I think that the point is there is reason to be alarmed,” Sanders replied. “We have constant attacks going on not just there but across the globe, and we have to start putting national security and global security at an all-time high.”

Trump and Khan have always had an icy relationship, especially since Trump proposed banning all Muslims from traveling to the United States during the 2016 campaign.

Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, responded to questions about the proposed ban by saying it would prevent him from traveling to America. He later added that it discriminated against “everyone who comes from a background similar to mine, anywhere in the world.”

“Let me ask you a follow-up on what Jon was asking about with respect to the mayor of London,” CNN’s Jim Acosta asked later. “There are going to be folks who are going to ask the question, was the President attacking the mayor of London because he’s Muslim?”

“Not at all,” Sanders replied. “And I think to suggest something like that is utterly ridiculous.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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