(CNSNews.com) - The White House said Thursday that the administration would consider the terror suspect who drove a truck into pedestrians and bicyclists in Manhattan this week an enemy combatant.
“I believe we would consider this person to be an enemy combatant, yes,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
When asked whether Trump would instruct the Department of Justice not to charge the suspect in federal court and use the enemy combatant status to treat the suspect differently not only in terms of interrogation but prosecution, Sanders said, “I don't believe that determination has been made. I think that's something we'll wait until we get a little further into the process.”
During a cabinet meeting Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he would “certainly consider” sending the terror suspect to Guantanamo Bay.
“I would certainly consider that. Send him to Gitmo. I would certainly consider that,” he said.
After the meeting, Sanders clarified that Trump supports sending the terror suspect to Guantanamo Bay, but he “wasn’t necessarily advocating for it.”
Sanders was asked if the president believes he has the authority as commander-in-chief to send the suspect to Gitmo.
“Look, the point he was making is that he supports, or would support that, but he wasn’t necessarily advocating for it, but he certainly would support it if he felt like that was the best move,” Sanders said.
When asked what are the advantages of sending the suspect to Gitmo, Sanders said, “That's a question I think we'd have to dive into deeper and certainly talk with the interagency process before answering that.”
Sanders began the briefing by offering up prayers to New York City, saying the city has “some of the toughest, most resilient people on Earth.”
“This attack underscores that the terrorist threat is real, and as we defeat ISIS and affiliated groups abroad, we must be vigilant here in our country as they seek other ways to attack the homeland. Inspiring such attacks through hateful propaganda has always been part of ISIS's and other terrorists' strategy,” she said.
It also “underscores the need for the most careful vetting of who enters our country,” Sanders said. “There are hundreds of active law enforcement investigations into foreign nationals suspected of engaging in terrorism, and we must vet those seeking entry to the United States thoroughly.”
Sanders pointed out that “just hours after the attack, a million New Yorkers, including families with their children, marched through the city for a Halloween parade.”
“Their message was heard loud and clear: The American spirit will never be broken. Those who hope we will succumb to fear will never get what they want, and those who seek to divide us will only bring us closer together.”
She hailed the New York police officer who shot the attacker and stopped the terrorist attack as “a hero.” Officer Ryan Nash, a five-year veteran of the NYPD, was one of the first at the scene.
“He's a hero, but that doesn't come as a surprise to most of his colleagues. He's already received two awards during his young career -- one for Excellent Police Duty and another for other police action. Yesterday, he earned something that could never be properly displayed by a ribbon or medal; he earned the never-ending thanks of a grateful nation,” Sanders said.
“The president has vowed to defend our country, protect our communities, and put the safety of Americans first. This is the oath he took as president, and that is his sacred pledge to the citizens of our country,” she added.