As commentators considered how a "normal" U.S. president might behave in the aftermath of an attack like the one that struck London on Saturday, many argued that President Donald Trump's response, which took the form of a "Twitter barrage," constitutes a perfect example of "not normal."
First, Trump launched an attack on London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Sunday, implying that Khan was downplaying the severity of the atrocities. After it was pointed out repeatedly that this narrative is false, Trump went after the mayor again:
Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
In the same series of tweets on Monday morning, Trump doubled-down on his call for a "travel ban," affirming what lawyers and activists have argued all along: that his proposed restriction on immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries amounts to a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States.
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have responded to the tweetstorm by saying, in effect, "Thanks for making our point, Donald."
In the weeks leading up to and following Trump's signing of his initial executive order in January, Trump himself and administration officials repeatedly insisted that the restrictions imposed by the measure did not amount to a "ban" and were "not motivated by animus toward any religion." As legal challenges mounted, the administration released a revised version of the order in March, which was subsequently and successfully challenged in court.
Now, Trump appears to be undermining his administration's case, an act of self-destruction that, as one commentator noted on Twitter, "should help the court case against him."
Early Monday morning, continuing where he left off the previous night, Trump tweeted, "People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!"
Trump went on to launch an attack on the March version of his own executive order, calling it "watered down" and "politically correct."
People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
The ACLU replied quickly, noting that Trump has "confirmed the ban is a BAN" while also conceding that the second executive order issued in March was substantively the same as the first.
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent characterized the tweetstorm as "unhinged" and said the president "may have given opponents of his immigration ban more ammunition against it in court." In addition, he said, Trump "confirmed once again that a deep rot of bad faith and a profound contempt for process continue to infest much of what this administration does."
The Associated Press concluded:
President Donald Trump can't be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad.
Trump's remarks come as the White House is taking steps to have the March executive order reinstated, despite the fact the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the order "drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination."