Only Donald Trump could screw up a statement of sympathy and support for an ally under terror attack, in the process turning himself into a target of derision among British citizens and leaders across the political spectrum.
As a former British ambassador to the United States responded:
Leaders of the Labour and Conservative parties responded as well:
Trump managed this unusual feat of unifying Britain against him by taking a statement from the mayor of London badly out of context and then attacking him for it on Twitter, suggesting that the mayor wasn’t taking terrorism seriously. Trump issued the attack even as the mayor and other British officials were still trying to get a grasp on what was happening in their capital city.
It did not go unnoticed that Trump’s target, Sadiq Khan, is himself Muslim and had tangled with Trump back during the campaign over the so-called Muslim ban.
In his comments, Khan had condemned what he called “a deliberate and cowardly act,” saying “there is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts. He also told his fellow Londoners the following:
“Just like terrorists are constantly evolving, finding new ways to disrupt us, harm us, attack us, the police and experts and all of us are finding new ways to keep us safe. Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days — no reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police and all of us need to do is make sure that we’re as safe as we can possibly be.”
That was the basis for Trump’s attack.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, running for re-election with the Conservative Party, expressed her full support for Khan, a member of the competing Labour Party, calling his response to the attacks “excellent.” The head of the Liberal Democrats did the same. “Sadiq Khan has shown calm and dignified resolve in the face of these cowardly terrorist attacks,” said Tim Farron. “He is more of a statesman than Donald Trump will ever be.”
Even the acting U.S. ambassador to Britain spoke out in support of Khan:
Earlier this morning, having had a day to cool off and reconsider his actions, Trump responded just as you might have expected:
It’s not going to get any better, people, not until this man is removed from the high office in which he has mistakenly been installed.