According to the New York Times, it was Donald Trump’s fault that a man plowed a truck into dozens of people on a New York City bike trail, killing eight and seriously injuring 12.
“A moment like this was almost inevitable since Mr. Trump took office and sought to ban visitors from select countries with Muslim majorities,” the Times wrote.
“The terrorist attack in New York on Tuesday was the first by a foreign-born assailant on American soil since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, and few were surprised that he saw it as vindication for his tough-on-immigration approach.
“It also provided fodder for him to shift the public focus away from the special counsel investigation that unveiled criminal charges against three former campaign aides this week.”
The Times and the Washington Post also wrote that while Trump did not want to talk about gun control after the Las Vegas shootings, he was quick to talk about anti-terrorism measures after this week’s terrorist attack in New York.
Trump’s response, which included calling for the death penalty for the perpetrator, criticizing Sen. Charles Schumer, D.-N.Y., for helping create the visa program that allowed the man accused of the attacks to enter the country, “stood in sharp contrast to the White House’s reaction to the mass shooting in Las Vegas last month,” the Washington Post reported.
“After that attack by a Nevada man who killed himself, Trump denounced the shooter’s act as ‘pure evil,’ but White House aides and Republican allies rejected calls by Democrats for a renewed debate over gun-control laws, saying it was not appropriate to politicize the tragedy. On Wednesday, however, Trump said the United States needs a system of ‘punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now.”
The Times agreed.
“The president’s vocal response to the attack framed the emerging politics of the case. While the White House deemed it unseemly to have a policy debate on gun control immediately after the massacre in Las Vegas last month, Mr. Trump was eager on Wednesday to have a policy debate on immigration.”
In fact, The Times went further, suggesting President Trump should not have commented at all.
“Presidents are typically advised never to weigh in on pending criminal cases because such comments can be used by defense lawyers to argue that their clients cannot get a fair trial – especially when the head of the executive branch that will prosecute the charges advocates the ultimate punishment before a judge has heard a single shred of evidence at trial,” the Times wrote. “But Mr. Trump has disregarded such advice in other instances, as well.”
President Obama was apparently unfamiliar with this rule too. He commented on a variety of criminal cases and police matters, including those involving Henry Louis Gates, the police in Ferguson, Mo., the police involved in the shootings of Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Trayvon Martin in Florida.
The Times and Post inadvertently explained why the president responded differently to New York than he did to Las Vegas. He campaigned on getting tough on immigration. He has called for extreme vetting of countries considered likely to harbor anti-U.S. terrorists, though Uzbekistan, the home country of the accused killer, was not among them.
He already had called for ending the Diversity Lottery Program, which awarded visas to individuals solely to promote diversity in the U.S. Schumer had pushed for the measure as a member of the House. This is the program the alleged killer used to enter the country.
What Trump did was point to his previous proposals that, if enacted, might have prevented the crime on which he was commenting. After Las Vegas, gun-control advocates pushed for measures such as increased scrutiny of firearms sales at guns shows, which were not similarly linked to the crime at hand.
He also raised the question of, if this is terrorism, should the perpetrator not be treated as an enemy combatant, subject to military justice and imprisonment in Guantanamo.