Trump declines to condemn India's anti-Muslim law

Eli Stokols and Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

NEW DELHI -- Wrapping up a two-day trip to India, President Donald Trump declined Tuesday to condemn India's new citizenship law, which discriminates against Muslims, and downplayed the threat from the coronavirus, which has spread rapidly around the globe, claiming it's "very well under control in our country."

At a news conference in New Delhi, the normally opinionated president appeared visibly uncomfortable and tentative at times as he tried to deflect thorny questions about India's religious violence and the guilty verdict in New York for former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein on rape charges.

When asked about the verdict and whether justice was served, Trump, who has faced numerous sexual misconduct allegations, instead discussed Weinstein in personal and political terms, claiming that Michelle Obama "loved him" and that Weinstein wanted Hillary Clinton to win in 2016.

"I was never a fan of Harvey Weinstein," Trump said. "He said he was going to work hard to defeat me in the election. How did that work out?"

Asked specifically by a reporter to deliver a message to "women in America who are still afraid to come forward and share their stories of sexual harassment and assault," Trump, an avid watcher of television news, claimed he had not paid close attention to the trial while he was in India. Weinstein was convicted of rape and a felony sex crime Monday in New York.

"I don't know the actual results," Trump said. "From the standpoint of women, I think it was a great thing and it sends a very strong message."


Trump was also asked numerous times about the growing threat from the coronavirus, which has panicked the world and roiled financial markets.

Trump tried to downplay the threat, claiming it's "very well under control in our country" and that people infected in the United States "are getting better. They're all getting better." The reach of the deadly virus has increased quickly and there is no known cure or vaccine.

Saying he didn't want to say anything to overshadow his "fantastic" trip to India, Trump declined to criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new citizenship law, which excludes Muslims and has helped fuel a new wave of communal violence.

Ten people have been reported killed in Muslim-majority neighborhoods north of the capital since Sunday. The clashes began between protesters in favor of the law and those against it, but the violence quickly took on religious overtones, with Hindu and Muslim mobs fighting each other.


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