President Trump Just Got Caught in an Awkward Lie About Sweden

February 19th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump made more than one nation do a double-take when he attempted to defend his national security policies by going out of his way to imply that Sweden had just been the victim of a terrorist attack.


In reality, no such attack occurred.

While speaking at a rally in Florida, Trump directed his audience to “look at what’s happening in Sweden last night," telling them that the Scandinavian country was “having problems like they never thought possible.”

Sweden has taken more refugees per capita in recent years than any other nation in Europe, committing itself to take in over 190,000 displaced people. For comparison, under President Obama, the United States only accepted 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Among the most notable things to happen during the night Trump mentioned, according to one Swedish paper, was a drunk driver being arrested and a freeway being shut down because of “strong winds and snow.” Neither were related to terrorism.

“What has he been smoking?” Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, asked in a tweet.

Some on social media even started using the hashtag #lastnightinSweden to dramatize the extraordinarily undramatic events that may have taken place on Friday.

Catarina Axelsson, a spokeswoman for the Swedish foreign ministry said she is seeking more information about Trump's claims. "We have asked the question today to the state department. We are trying to get clarity," she told Reuters.

False claims about refugees abound. 

This appears to be the third time that a member of the Trump administration has falsely claimed that a terrorist attack occurred somewhere. Earlier this month, senior adviser to the president Kellyanne Conway claimed in an interview on MSNBC that an event called the “Bowling Green Massacre” occurred in Kentucky as a defense of Trump’s Muslim travel ban. It didn't.

Less than a week later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer corrected himself in an email to ABC News after he had on three separate occasions claimed that there was a terrorist attack in Atlanta by Islamic terrorists. Despite having made the reference on multiple networks and shows, he wrote that he “clearly meant Orlando.”

Around the world in recent months, fabricated or exaggerated stories about crimes committed by refugees have been used as ammunition in the debate over global immigration policy. Earlier this year, the German newspaper Bild published a salacious story about a rampaging refugee sexual assault mob. As the The Guardian reports, the tale garnered international attention before being dismissed as a fabrication by the local police authorities, who are now investigating the people responsible for making up the story.