Washington, Nov 30: The White House on Thursday came out in defence of US President Donald Trump who had drawn flak for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British account.
Trump on Wednesday took the social media by storm when he retweeted inflammatory anti-Muslim videos by Britain First, a group founded in 2011 by former members of the far-right British National Party (BNP).
"The President has been talking about these security issues for years now, from the campaign trail to the White House. He talked about them yesterday at the pool spray. He's going to continue to talk about them on Twitter, he's going to talk about them in speeches, he's going to talk about them in policy," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Shah was accompanying Trump en route to St Louis, Missouri, where the US president was scheduled to deliver a major speech on middle-class tax relief and business tax relief. Shah underscored that safety and security were priorities of the Trump administration.
"Look, we are now looking at the possibility of a difficulty in passing government funding legislation because of disagreements on immigration policy. The Democrats' priority is amnesty. Our priority is safety and security," he said.
Trump's move drew criticism from The Downing Street which said the US president was "wrong" to retweet the controversial videos. Responding to a question on the British Prime Minister's office condemning Trump's retweets, Shah said, "The president has greatest respect for both the people of Britain and Prime Minister Theresa May."
"We are going to be focusing on ... safety and security for the American people. We're talking about extreme vetting policies, ensuring that individuals who come to the United States do not pose either a public safety or a terrorism threat, and the other measures that we want to take," Shah said.
To butteress his contention, Shah reiterated the need to end the visa lottery system, that allows individuals to come to the US, and replace it with a merit-based system. He noted that the terrorist who killed eight individuals in New York City last month came to the US through the visa lottery system.
"So the President is going to continue talking about these issues because they're important for the safety and security of this county," he said. Shah strongly refuted allegations that Trump is anti- Muslim.
"The president has addressed these issues with the travel order that he issued earlier this year and the companion proclamation," he said.
"There are plenty of Muslim-majority nations whose citizens can come to the US without travel restrictions. But those that pose public safety or terrorism threats through our worldwide security review that was overseen by the Department of Homeland Security is why there were certain travel restrictions put in place," Shah said.