PALM BEACH, Fla. – President-elect Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Germany was “an attack on humanity and it’s got to be stopped.” He also suggested he might go forward with his campaign pledge to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from coming to the United States.
“You know my plans. All along, I’ve been proven to be right, 100 per cent correct,” Trump said when asked if the attack in Berlin had caused him to reevaluate the proposal. “What’s happening is disgraceful.”
Trump proposed the Muslim ban during the Republican primary campaign, prompting criticism from both parties. He shifted his rhetoric during the general election to focus on temporarily halting immigration from an unspecified list of countries with ties to terrorism, though he did not disavow the Muslim ban. A transition spokesman said later Wednesday that Trump’s plans “might upset those with their heads stuck in the politically correct sand.”
“President-elect Trump has been clear that we will suspend admission of those from countries with high terrorism rates and apply a strict vetting procedure for those seeking entry in order to protect American lives,” said spokesman Jason Miller.
But transition officials did not comment as to whether Trump could also push for the overarching ban on Muslims. The proposal remains on his campaign website.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack in Berlin that left 12 people dead and 48 injured. On Wednesday, German officials launched a Europe-wide manhunt for a “violent and armed” Tunisian man suspected in the killings.
Trump was spending the final days of 2016 huddling with advisers at his palatial private estate in South Florida. He also met Wednesday with the heads of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, companies with high-dollar government contracts that Trump has criticized. Boeing has a contract to build two new Air Force One planes and Lockheed Martin builds the F-35 fighter jet.
Trump, who briefly spoke to reporters outside Mar-a-Lago, said of his meeting with Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, “It’s a little bit of a dance. We’re trying to get costs down.”
Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, said his company was committed to working with Trump to lower costs on the Air Force One project.
The president-elect was also finalizing his senior White House team, wrapping up a decision-making process that has been dogged by infighting among rival factions within Trump’s organization. Some of Trump’s original campaign aides have expressed concern to the president-elect himself that they are getting boxed out in favour of those more closely aligned with incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Among the early advisers who will not be joining Trump at the White House is Corey Lewandowski, his combative first campaign manager. But the operative won’t be far away – Lewandowski announced plans to start a political consulting firm with offices just a block away from the White House.
Lewandowski oversaw Trump’s campaign through the Republican primaries, but he clashed with the candidate’s family and was fired. Still, he remained close to Trump, talking with him frequently and showing up occasionally at the president-elect’s offices during the transition.
Lewandowski said he was offered “multiple opportunities” to join the administration, though people with knowledge of the process said those opportunities did not include senior positions in the West Wing.
The president-elect announced plans to hire economist Peter Navarro to run a new National Trade Council that will be housed in the White House. Navarro, author of “Death By China,” has endorsed a hard line approach toward relations with Beijing.
In a statement, the Trump transition team said the creation of the council “demonstrates the president-elect’s determination to make American manufacturing great again.”
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Trump also named billionaire investor Carl Icahn as an adviser on regulatory reform, though the transition team said Icahn would not be serving as a federal government employee.
Transition officials said additional announcements on White House jobs were expected this week.
Trump opened his day by boasting anew about his Nov. 8 election victory, tweeting that his win in the Electoral College was more difficult to pull off than winning the popular vote would have been if he had tried. Democrat Hillary Clinton won at least 2.6 million more votes than Trump, an apparent sore point for the president-elect. “
“I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular vote – but would campaign differently,” he tweeted.