White House spokesman invokes Marathon bombing in immigration defense
A spokesman for President Donald J. Trump invoked the Boston Marathon bombing as he defended Trump’s controversial immigration order, which has sowed concern and confusion nationally and across the world.
Sean Spicer said the vetting process for immigrants was being reviewed “to make sure that we do this right.”
“I don’t think you have to look any farther than the families of the Boston Marathon, in Atlanta, in San Bernardino, to ask if we can go further,” Spicer said.
None of the perpetrators of those terror attacks would have been affected by the executive order Trump signed on Friday.
“There’s obviously steps that we can and should be taking and I think the president is going to continue to do what he can to make sure that this country is as safe as possible,” Spicer said.
In a wide-ranging hourlong news conference, Spicer was peppered with a number of questions about the immigration order. At times animated, he shot back that the restrictions ordered Friday were intended to keep Americans safe.
“The president’s going to be very proactive with protecting this country,” he said. “We’re not going to wait until we get attacked and figure out how we can make sure it doesn’t happen again. He’s going to do everything in his power to stop every threat we face in this country and every potential threat.”
Asked about the abrupt imposition of the new restrictions, Spicer said there was no specific threat that prompted Trump’s signing of the order, but that it was important to move quickly because a threat could arise at any time.
“This is a national security issue,” he said.
Spicer did not comment on a statement issued by former president Obama that endorsed the protests that have been taking place in response to the new immigration restrictions.
He said that the safety of the American people is Trump’s top priority, and that is why the president is directing Defense Secretary James N. Mattis to develop a more aggressive plan to fight the Islamic State.
“If ISIS is left in power, the threat it poses only grows. … The United States must take decisive action, and the president is taking the necessary steps,” he said.
Spicer also pushed back against media reports about a reorganization of the National Security Council that makes Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, a full member of the panel and diminished the roles of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He insisted that Trump’s policy on positions on the council was the same or nearly the same as the policies of Obama and former President George W. Bush, and lashed out at reporters for, in his view, getting the story wrong.
“I’ve seen so much misreporting all this weekend about downgrading this individual or upgrading — the language could not be clearer,” he said. “It is 100 percent identical.”