The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
Trump’s comments on Barcelona came just hours after news first broke of the incident, which police confirmed they were treating as a terrorist attack. White House chief of staff John Kelly briefed Trump on the incident Thursday afternoon.
Trump’s quick response sharply contrasts with his reactions to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday.
Trump argued in his initial response on Saturday that “many sides” were to blame for the tumult, which erupted amid a white supremacist protest against efforts to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The president didn’t explicitly condemn hate groups until Monday, two days after a car allegedly driven by a white supremacist plowed into a group of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman.
In a rambling press conference Tuesday, Trump defended his initial statement, arguing he needed to get “the facts” before making more definitive remarks against racist groups.
“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts,” Trump said Tuesday. “It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. It is a very, very important process to me. It is a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.”
Trump on Tuesday also again blamed “both sides” for the clashes in Charlottesville. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said. “Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
Using Twitter, Trump in the past has offered much quicker responses to violent incidents around the world. It took him less than a day to respond to terrorist attacks in Paris, Manchester, England, and London, the last of which he used as a reason to plug his proposal for a travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries.
As Vox has pointed out, Trump has been traditionally slow to respond to violent incidents where Muslims are the victims.
Trump also has claimed he can “predict” terrorism, saying he “can feel it.” After a gunman who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016, killing 49 and wounding scores more, Trump bragged about “being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”