'Last night in Sweden': White House clarifies Trump's comments
During a campaign-style speech in Melbourne, Fla. on Saturday, President Trump appeared to cite a Friday night terrorist incident in Sweden as a reason the public should get behind his hard-line immigration policies.
There's only one problem - there was no major incident on Friday night in Sweden.
After announcing his administration's plan to renew efforts to restrict immigration and the flow of refugees into the United States, Trump cited several European cities, like Brussels and Nice, that experienced terrorist attacks during the past two years.
"You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden," Trump told the crown. "Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."
Late Sunday afternoon, the White House said Trump was refering to "rising crime and recent incidents, in general," in Sweden, not "a specific incident."
President Trump said on Twitter late Sunday afternoon were in reference to a segment that aired on Fox News Friday night.
The segment, which aired on Tucker Carlson Tonight, involved a discussion on crime in Sweden following the acceptance of so many refugees. It included part of an interview with documentary filmmaker and former Fox News contributor Ami Horowitz, who has claimed rapes are on the rise in Sweden despite numbers indicating they remain lower than 2014 levels.
Henrik Selin, political scientist and deputy director of the Swedish Institute, told the New York Times that claims of "no-go" zones, Sharia Law and rising violence in Sweden due to the influx of refugees are "exaggerated and not based in facts."
"Some of the stories were very popular to spread in social media by people who have the same kind of agenda — that countries should not receive so many refugees," Selin said. "On the contrary, the fact is that crime rates are going down."
The clarifications from both Trump and the White House come after the Swedish Embassy in Washington contacted the State Department to request clarification of Trump's remarks.
"We have asked the question today to the state department. We are trying to get clarity," said Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said, according to Reuters.
The quiet Scandanavian country has not experienced any terror-related attacks in recent years despite taking in nearly 200,000 refugees from several war-torn countries, including Iraq and Syria, which were both on Trump's travel ban. In 2010, 28-year old Iraqi-born Swedish citizen Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly was killed while setting off two bombs in central Stockholm. Two people were injured.
Trump's comments left some Swedish politicians scratching their heads.
"Sweden? Terrorist Attack? What has he been smoking?" former prime minister Carl Bildt wondered on Twitter following the speech.
Sweden's official Twitter account @Sweden, which is handed over to a private citizen each week, kept busy reassuring followers that there wasn't a terrorist incident in the country.
Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet listed in English some events that had happened Friday in Sweden, including police chasing a drunken driver and a Swedish singer having technical problems during rehersals for a singing competition.
It remains unclear why Trump attempted to draw a line between refugees and recent terrorist attacks in Europe. Nearly all of the men involved in the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, the 2016 bombings in Brussels and the 2016 attack Nice, France involving a cargo truck were citizens of France or Belgium, not immigrants or refugees, as Trump implied.
In the failed 2010 suicide bombing in Sweden, the attacker was a Swedish national who moved to the country from Iraq when he was 11.
This is the third time a member of the Trump administration has appeared to invent a terrorist incident to garner support for the president's controversial immigration ban.
Earlier this month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer admitted he misspoke after repeatedly alluding to an attack in Atlanta by an overseas terrorist. Kellyanne Conway, the adviser to President Trump, falsely spoke of a nonexistent "Bowling Green massacre" by Iraqi refugees in Bowling Green, Ky. Conway, who coined the phrase "alternative facts," later acknowledged and corrected her statement on Twitter.