Trump’s Sweden comment raises questions

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Pres. Donald Trump holds a campaign-style rally for supporters in Melbourne, Florida. (2/18/17)

Pres. Donald Trump holds a campaign-style rally for supporters in Melbourne, Florida. (2/18/17)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s reference to “what’s happening last night in Sweden” during a Saturday rally in Florida raised questions in Sweden and around the internet about what he really meant and where he gets his information.

Trump referenced the Scandinavian nation, known for liberally accepting Syrian refugees, during a section of his speech decrying the dangers of open borders.

“We’ve got to keep our country safe,” he said. “You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris.”

At the time, Trump appeared to be referring to recent terror attacks in Germany and elsewhere, but no such attack has occurred in Sweden. The President’s remarks led some on Twitter to speculate he might have watched a segment on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show Friday night in which the host interviewed Ami Horowitz, a filmmaker who has tried to tie Sweden’s taking in of asylum seekers to increased violent crimes in the country.

Trump confirmed that timeline on Sunday, tweeting: “My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNewsconcerning immigrants & Sweden.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters earlier Sunday the President was “talking about rising crime and recent incidents in general and not referring to a specific incident.”

She reiterated that Trump did not mean to say “last night” but was referring to the rise in crime in the country.

Meanwhile, the official Twitter of the Embassy of Sweden in the US has responded to those asking about what happened Friday night by saying: “Unclear to us what President Trump was referring to. Have asked US officials for explanation.”

Later, when Trump clarified what he was referring to, the embassy tweeted, “We look forward to informing the US administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies.”

Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, questioned the President’s statement on Twitter.

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” Bildt tweeted. “Questions abound.”

Trump’s remark is the latest misplaced reference to a terrorist attack or incident by those in his White House. Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway inaccurately referred to a “Bowling Green massacre” that never took place, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer referred to an attack in Atlanta, later clarifying that he meant to refer to Orlando.

CNN’s Allie Malloy contributed to this story.