Citing France attack, Trump demands funding for border wall

Citing France attack, Trump demands funding for border wall

US president uses suspected terrorist shooting in Strasbourg to make case for Democratic leaders to back security barrier

French police officers near the scene of a shooting at a Christmas market on December 11, 2018, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Abdesslam Mirdass/AFP)
French police officers near the scene of a shooting at a Christmas market on December 11, 2018, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Abdesslam Mirdass/AFP)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday offered his first comment on a deadly attack at a Christmas market in France, using it as proof that increased security is required on his country’s border with Mexico.

Three people were killed and 13 wounded when a suspected terrorist sprayed gunfire at one of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets in the eastern city of Strasbourg on Tuesday evening.

“Another very bad terror attack in France. We are going to strengthen our borders even more. Chuck and Nancy must give us the votes to get additional Border Security!” Trump tweeted.

The comment came a day after Trump claimed, without offering proof, that the US had caught 10 terrorists on the US Mexico border while making a pitch for Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to back funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border.

Authorities have not determined if the attack in France was terror related, as they hunt for the suspected shooter.

France’s anti-terror prosecutor Remy Heitz told a news conference Wednesday that the shooter cried the Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Greatest”) as he opened fire Tuesday night, citing witnesses.

Members of the French police unit BRI (Research and Intervention Brigade – Brigades de recherche et d’intervention) stand guard on the Pont de l’Europe (Europe bridge), crossing the border with Germany over the river Rhine in Strasbourg, on December 12, 2018. (Frederick FLORIN/AFP)

Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with a long police record for crimes including armed robbery. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss details of the large and ongoing investigation.

Authorities have not said if Chekatt was born in France or immigrated to the country.

Bickering with the Democratic leaders in front of the press, Trump threatened on Tuesday to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t provide the money he says is needed for the wall at the Mexican border.

His comments came as he opened a contentious meeting with Democratic Senate and House leaders Schumer and Pelosi, with a partial shutdown looming on December 21 when funding for some agencies will expire. The president and Pelosi tangled over whether the House or the Senate was holding up his proposal. Trump and Schumer jabbed at each other over the import of the midterm elections — and who would be blamed if a shutdown occurs.

US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office of the White House, December 11, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump is seeking far more for his long-stalled border wall than the $1.6 billion the Senate has agreed to for border security, including physical barriers and technology along the US southern border.

Pelosi and Schumer have urged Trump to support a measure that includes a half-dozen government funding bills largely agreed upon by lawmakers, along with a separate measure that funds the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through September 30. The homeland bill includes about $1.3 billion for fencing and other security measures at the border.

If Trump rejects that, Democrats are urging a continuing resolution that would fund all the remaining appropriations bills at current levels through September 30.

“We gave the president two options that would keep the government open,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement after the meeting. “It’s his choice to accept one of those options or shut the government down.”

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