London Mayor Sadiq Khan brushes aside Trump's broadside on terror attack as 'ill-informed'

President Donald Trump speaks during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, June 1, 2017.
T.J. Kirkpatrick | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Sunday criticized London Mayor Sadiq Khan for his response to Saturday's deadly terror attacks in the British capital, a remark that a spokesperson for the mayor dismissed as "ill-informed."

In an early morning tweet, Trump referred to the number of dead and wounded in the attack on London Bridge, and appeared to chide Khan for telling Londoners not to be alarmed. The tweet took a portion of the mayor's message to residents out of context.

@realDonaldTrump: At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"

Trump was referring to an earlier statement by Khan, in which the mayor told citizens that "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There's no reason to be alarmed."

Khan also stated that London would not be cowered by terrorism, telling the city that the threat level remains at severe.

"Severe means an attack across the country is still highly likely," he said, warning citizens to be vigilant.

@SadiqKhan: We are all shocked and angry today - but this is our city. We will never let these cowards win and we will never be cowed by terrorism.

In response to Trump's tweet on Sunday, a spokesperson for Khan said, "The Mayor is busy working with the police, emergency services and the government to coordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack and provide leadership and reassurance to Londoners and visitors to our city."

The spokesperson added that Khan "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."

Some British politicians were quick to back Khan and denounce Trump's comment.

Trump's tweet showed he has little regard for the "special relationship" between Britain and the United States, said Tim Farron, leader of Britain's Liberal Democrats.

"Sadiq Khan has showed calm and dignified resolve in the face of these cowardly terrorist attacks. He is more of a statesman than Trump will ever be," he said in a statement.

Conservative British Parliament member Penny Mordaunt tweeted out a printout of Khan's comments and said he was "right to provide reassurance."

@PennyMordaunt: Here's what @SadiqKhan actually said. He is right to provide reassurance. I'm standing with resilient London & him.

'No gun debate'

Trump also appeared to chastise advocates of gun control, tweeting that the attack was not generating a debate about gun control because the attackers used knives and a truck. Three men driving a van rammed into pedestrians on London's Bridge, then proceeded to stab several before being shot by police.

@realDonaldTrump: Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!

Trump also renewed his call for the United States to move forward on adopting a travel ban on several Muslim majority nations. He earlier referred directly to the ban, which has been held up by U.S. courts.

@realDonaldTrump: We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart it will only get worse

@realDonaldTrump: 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!

'Ignorant view'

Trump's tweet recalled public criticism of Khan made in March by the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., after a terror attack near the Westminster Palace. At the time, Trump Jr. tweeted a link to a September 2016 story, in which Khan was quoted saying the threat of terror attacks is "part in parcel of living in a big city" and Londoners should be vigilant.

@DonaldJTrumpJr: You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Trump and Khan, London's first Muslim mayor, have had a testy relationship. Khan has described Trump's effort to temporarily block entry of citizens from some predominantly Muslim nations into the United States as "shameful and cruel."

The mayor has long argued that Trump's approach to the Muslim world could spark further terrorism.

"Donald Trump's ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe — it risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists," Khan said last year, when Trump was still campaigning.

Trump's attack on Sunday was backed by at least one member of his administration. White House director of social media Dan Scavino Jr. jumped into the fray, resurfacing a year-old Twitter dispute with the mayor and telling Khan to "wake up."

@Scavino45: .@MayorofLondon- refer to below tweet 13 months ago, after you criticized ... now President @realDonaldTrump --- and WAKE UP!!!!

Scavino said last year that Trump's rhetoric boiled down to "not being 'politically correct'" after Khan said the candidate's hardline approach to Muslims could embolden extremists.