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Trump Calls His Executive Order A "Travel Ban" Just Moments After The London Bridge Attack

The White House and Justice Department attorneys have argued the executive order is not a "ban."

Posted on June 3, 2017, at 9:55 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump tried to garner support for his legally challenged travel ban, just moments after suspected terror attacks in London Saturday, referencing the violent incidents as a justification for the executive order.

Alex Brandon / AP

Trump's tweet, connecting the London attack to the travel executive order currently tied up in the courts, was his first public statement concerning the violent incidents Saturday.

It followed a retweet of a Drudge Report item on the attacks, which left six people dead and more than 20 injured after a van rammed into pedestrians on London Bridge and suspects began stabbing people in Borough Market.

In the tweet, Trump noted the need to be "smart, vigilant and tough."

We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!

A few minutes later, the president tweeted support for the United Kingdom and offered US assistance in the wake of the attack.

Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there - WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!

Earlier this week, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to reinstate its executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations and temporarily suspending all refugee resettlement in the US. The administration argues that the ban is essential to protecting the country from terrorist attacks.

Lower courts have blocked enforcement of the ban, siding with civil liberties groups who claim that it is intended to target Muslims, under the guise of national security.

As the legal battles continue, the president's language about the executive order — in particular his campaign statements referring to a potential "Muslim ban" — has become a sticking point.

The use of the word "ban" has been a particular thorn in the administration's side. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has repeatedly argued to reporters that the executive order is not a "travel ban."

spicer: it's not a ban reporter: but the president called it a ban spicer: it's not reporter: is he confused or u?…

So the president's use of the phrase "travel ban" Saturday quickly caught the eye of at least one organization that is challenging the executive order in court.

Glad we both agree the ban is a ban.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.