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Trump says US must be 'smart, tough' in face of terror, calls for courts to back his travel ban

  • Trump issues three tweets in response to presumed terror attack in London
  • Calls on courts to approve pending ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries
A soldier and an armed policeman pass Big Ben in London, Britain May 24, 2017.
Neil Hall | Reuters
A soldier and an armed policeman pass Big Ben in London, Britain May 24, 2017.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday that the U.S. should be "smart and tough" in the face of terror, adding that a presumed terror attack in London bolstered the need for courts to approve his proposed travel restrictions on six Muslim-majority countries.

Shortly after the attack, Trump posted on Twitter that the U.S. would support Britain, which is still reeling from last month's bombing at a Manchester concert. However, the president also suggested that his travel ban should be swiftly enacted as an "extra level of safety" against terror.

The terror attack at a Manchester concert left dozens dead and put the country on a high state of alert ahead of Parliamentary elections next week. In a statement, Prime Minister Theresa May said Saturday's incident was being treated as a "potential act of terrorism." In addition to his call for the travel ban, Trump expressed sympathy and solidarity for the U.S.'s closest European ally.

The Trump administration was rebuffed by federal courts and the U.S. Justice Department on an initial travel ban earlier this year. The White House then proposed a narrower second version that imposed a ban on travel from Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days. During that period, the government was to assess the reliability of background information from those countries that the State Department uses to evaluate whether to issue a visa.

Yet the order has never been enforced, and the government must now persuade the Supreme Court that it will be permanently harmed if it can't begin enforcement right away.

Several British news outlets, including The Spectator and the BBC, cited eyewitness reports that a van accelerated, then jumped off the road and hit several people on the bridge. Metropolitan Police said via Twitter that police had been dispatched to respond to reports of a stabbing, in addition to the car collision and at least one other instance of violence.

— NBC News and CNBC's Javier David contributed to this story.