WASHINGTON (AP) – Pushing full-speed into international controversies, President Donald Trump on Friday ordered “new vetting measures” to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the United States and alternated tough talk with kind words in his diplomatic standoff with Mexico.
Trump traveled to the Pentagon where he joined Defense Secretary James Mattis for the signing of an executive action to bring sweeping changes to the nation’s refugee policies and put in motion his plans to build up the nation’s military.
“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want ’em here,” Trump declared. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”
During his election campaign against Hillary Clinton, Trump pledged to put in place “extreme vetting” procedures to screen people coming to the U.S. from countries with terrorism ties. The White House did not immediately release details on the order that Trump signed, but a draft of the order called for suspending the issuing of visas to people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 30 days.
Joined earlier in the day at the White House by British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump reaffirmed the United States’ “special relationship” with Great Britain.
But he was also asked about a more contentious issue: his recent statements that torture “does work” in prying information out of terror suspects. Giving ground, he said his defense secretary’s opposition would override his own belief. Hours later he stood at the Pentagon as retired Gen. James Mattis was sworn in as the military’s chief.
Trump held firm on another controversy – trade and illegal immigration from Mexico. He told reporters at a joint news conference with May that he had a “very good call” with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto earlier in the day, but he reaffirmed his belief that Mexico has “outnegotiated and beat us to a pulp” on trade – and that would change.
“We’re no longer going to be the country that doesn’t know what it’s doing,” he declared a day after the Mexican leader canceled his visit to Washington in response to Trump’s plans to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it.
The flurry of national security moves and foreign policy outreach capped a hectic first week for Trump at the White House, giving Americans an initial look at how Trump intends to position the United States around the globe.