President Donald Trump sparked fury, in London and yet another pointed rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday after he claimed that “loser terrorists” were behind a botched train attack were known to British police.
Trump took to Twitter to condemn an attack on a packed London Underground train that injured 22 people, but also appeared to suggest that British authorities had dropped the ball.
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” the US president tweeted.
“These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” Trump added, appearing to reveal undisclosed intelligence from the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan police force.
This online broadside brought a terse public response from May, who warned the United State president and others not to speculate.
“I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation,” May told journalists in London.
Trump’s latest comments were described as “unhelpful” by London’s Metropolitan Police, as well as by Nick Timothy, May’s former chief of staff.
“True or not — and I’m sure he doesn’t know — this is so unhelpful from leader of our ally and intelligence partner,” Timothy wrote on Twitter.
After his tweets, and with ties apparently under strain, Trump spoke with May to convey “his sympathies and prayers” for victims of the London attack, the White House said in a statement.
“The president pledged to continue close collaboration with the United Kingdom to stop attacks worldwide targeting innocent civilians and to combat extremism.”
Trump’s keenness to underline a series of terror attacks in Britain, virtually in real time, has led to a repeated outcry across the Atlantic that has helped indefinitely delay his much-vaunted state visit to the country.
In May, British officials were furious after their US counterparts leaked shared material about an investigation into a bomb attack at a concert by pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester which left 22 dead.
The bomber’s identity and details of the probe leaked to US media before British officials felt ready to disclose them.