WH Responds to Trump's Retweet of Muslim Videos: 'Never the Wrong Time to Talk About Security'

Susan Jones | November 30, 2017 | 8:04am EST
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President Trump speaks in St. Louis on Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

(CNSNews.com) - Following outrage on both sides of the Atlantic on Wednesday, the White House is defending President Trump's retweet of various videos, posted by a British woman who leads a nationalist group calling itself "Britain First."

The videos, which may or may not be real, purport to show Muslims attacking Christians or Christian symbols.

Trump's retweets drew a response from British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose spokesman issued a statement, saying:

“Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect.”

Trump tweeted back: ".@Theresa May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!"

The Daily Mail reported Thursday there are growing calls in Britain to withdraw the invitation for President Trump to make a state visit in January.

Many of the questions put to the White House on Wednesday focused on Trump's tweets and his spat with America's closest ally:

Raj Shah, Trump's deputy press secretary, told reporters, "We think that it's never the wrong time to talk about security and public safety for the American people. Those are the issues he was raising with the tweets this morning."

A reporter told Shah, "You might want to highlight security issues, but can't you concede that there's far better ways to do that than retweeting fake videos in a way that upsets our allies?"

Shah responded, "The President has been talking about these security issues for years now, from the campaign trail to the White House. He talked about them yesterday at the pool spray. He's going to continue to talk about them on Twitter, he's going to talk about them in speeches, he's going to talk about them in policy."

Shah hinted that the U.S. debate on DACA and immigration may have prompted Trump's retweets. Democrats want to attach legal status for DACA enrollees to a spending bill that must pass by Dec. 8.

"Look, we are now looking at the possibility of a difficulty in passing government funding legislation because of disagreements on immigration policy," Shah said. "The Democrats' priority is amnesty. Our priority is safety and security."

Shah also said President Trump has "the greatest respect" for the British people and Prime Minister May.

Asked if Trump thinks Muslims are a threat to the U.S., Shah responded, "No, look, the President has addressed these issues with the travel order that he issued earlier this year and the companion proclamation.

"There are plenty of Muslim-majority nations whose citizens can come to the United States without travel restrictions. But those that pose public safety or terrorism threats through our worldwide security review that was overseen by the Department of Homeland Security is why there were certain travel restrictions put in place."

Shah said videos themselves aren't the issue -- safety and security are. "It's about ensuring that individuals that come to the United States don't pose a public safety or terrorism threat."

"Sarah Sanders also addressed Trump's video retweets on Wednesday, saying, "Whether it's a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about. That is what the president is focused on, is dealing with those real threats."

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