The Associated Press fact-checked President Trump’s weekend tweets and warned readers that the president can’t be relied upon for accurate information during a terrorist attack, an unusual move that is sure to spark new tension between the White House and the media.
In a Monday morning story, the AP said Trump “got ahead of the facts” during Saturday’s terror attack in London, when assailants in a truck drove into a crowd before leaving the vehicle to stab and slash at people in a market near London Bridge.
Details about the attack were scant when Trump retweeted a tweet from the conservative Drudge Report: “Fears of new terror attack after van ‘mows down 20 people’ on London Bridge.”
Trump followed the Drudge tweet with his own declaration that the London attack was evidence that U.S. courts must validate his temporary ban on immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2017
The AP argued that it is not yet known what country the London attackers come from and so it can’t be determined whether the travel ban would have done anything to prevent it.
The AP noted that Trump’s own administration has argued that his controversial executive order is not a “ban,” a notion that Trump undercut with his tweet.
“Trump’s tweet directly contradicted an earlier statement by his homeland security secretary that the travel restrictions blocked by U.S. courts do not constitute a ban,” the AP said.
The AP also accused Trump of mischaracterizing statements made by London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
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
In an interview with the BBC, Khan said that the “threat level remains at severe” but that there is “no need to be alarmed” at the heavier-than-usual police presence in the streets. British police have been conducting raids throughout the city and have made dozens of arrests.
The AP noted that last week Trump had improperly labeled a recent shooting attack at a casino in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, which left nearly 40 dead, as terrorism. It is now believed that the attacker was motivated by gambling debt.
From there, the AP embarked on a wholesale review of recent remarks Trump has made, some more nebulous than other.
The AP hit Trump for a Rose Garden speech in which he announced the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate accord. In that speech, Trump declared that he was “elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
“That may be so, but Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, is not Trump country,” the AP said. “It voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Hillary Clinton in November, favoring her by a margin of 56 percent to Trump’s 40 percent.”
And it dismissed Trump’s recent claim that there has been “absolutely tremendous economic progress since Election Day” with the addition of “more than a million private-sector jobs.”
“The number is about right, but it in no way counts as ‘absolutely tremendous economic progress,’ ” the AP said. “Private-sector job creation from October through April (171,000 private-sector jobs a month) actually lags just slightly behind the pace of job creation for the previous six months (172,000), which came under President Barack Obama.”
Trump has repeatedly railed against a media that he accuses of reporting “fake news.” He has singled out some reporters from CNN, The New York Times and other outlets for criticism, and his supporters have also lambasted the press.
But the anger over Trump within the media is just as strong and was easy to see in the aftermath of the latest terror attack.
In a Monday morning news story on Trump’s tweets, CNN accused him of using Twitter “to stoke fear for political gain.”