After the New Zealand mosque shootings in March, Trump was asked whether white nationalism was
“rising threat around the world.”
The president responded:
“I don’t. I don’t really. It’s a small group of people…But it is a terrible thing.”
Castro, speaking to anchor Jonathan Karl, said that only the shooter bears “direct” responsibility. (In a statement released later Sunday, Castro echoed that comment, saying,
“These shooters are ultimately to blame for their actions. They are attempting to terrorize us but I believe that the vast majority of Americans reject this hatred.”
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney denied earlier on “This Week” that Trump had “downplayed” the threat of white nationalism and at the White House in March, Trump remarked,
“Last month, more than 76,000 illegal migrants arrived at our border. We’re on track for a million illegal aliens to rush our borders. People hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it is. It’s an invasion of drugs and criminals and people. You have no idea who they are.” “At the same time, as our national leader, you have a role to play in either fanning the flames of division or trying to bring Americans of different backgrounds together,”
Castro told Karl.
“Most presidents have chosen to try and bring people together. This president very early on made a clear choice to divide people for his own political benefit. And these are some of the consequences that we’re seeing of that.”
Asked about the March interaction, Mulvaney said Trump has been misinterpreted.
Trump condemned the El Paso shooting early Sunday morning, calling it “hateful” and “an act of cowardice.”
“It’s no accident that, just a few weeks after he announced his 2020 reelection bid, where he was indulging and entertaining this ‘Send her back’ chant,”
“And he’s spoken about immigrants as being invaders. “
He’s given license for this toxic brew of white supremacy to fester more and more in this country. And we’re seeing the results of that.”
Shortly after Beto O’Rourke claimed Sunday that President Trump’s “racism” is what “leads to” violent shootings, another Democratic presidential contender, Julian Castro said
“there’s one person that’s responsible directly” for Saturday’s deadly mass shooting in El Paso, Texas — “and that’s the shooter.” “God bless the people of El Paso Texas,” “God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.”
Responding directly to Mulvaney’s comments, Castro told Karl,
“You know, it’s so unfortunate that not only our president but his administration can’t rise up to the challenge of leadership in these times.” “We need to acknowledge that this is a problem.”
Buttigieg said, claiming that white nationalism has been “condoned at the highest levels” in Washington. Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.
“Right now you see it being echoed by the White House and there is a measure of responsibility that you just can’t get away from,”
he said. Buttigieg cited President Trump’s comment that there were “very fine people” on both sides after a deadly attack at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
“This is terrorism and we have to name it as such,”
Buttigieg said, specifically calling it “white nationalist terrorism” in a conversation with host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” Mulvaney continued:
“I don’t think it’s fair to try and lay this at the feet of the president. There are people in this country this morning thinking that President Trump was happy by this. That’s a sad, sad state of this nation. He’s angry. He’s upset. He wants it to stop. I don’t think it’s at all fair to sit here and say that he doesn’t think that white nationalism is bad for the nation. These are sick people. You cannot be a white supremacist and be normal in the head.”
In January, Trump wrote on Twitter,
“Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border. I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!”
At the same time, Castro told ABC News’ “This Week,” Trump has embraced “division and bigotry and fanning the flames of hate” as a form of “political strategy.”
Separately on Sunday, Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg pointed specifically to “weak gun safety” measures and white nationalism as the culprits, after the El Paso shooter was linked to anti-Mexican statements.
“I don’t believe that’s downplaying it, look at what he said,” “Look, this is not the same as international nuclear weapons. This is a serious problem, there’s no question about it. But they are sick, sick people and the president knows that.”
Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman whose district includes El Paso, said earlier on Sunday that he believes Trump is a white nationalist and likened the president’s language to that of Nazi Germany’s
Ryan, a congressman from Ohio, was speaking on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” just hours after a gunman in his home state left nine people dead and dozens more injured when he opened fire on the streets of downtown Dayton’s popular Oregon District. It was the second mass shooting in the country in less than 24 hours, following an attack by a gunman in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart that killed 20 people and left scores injured there.
“We’ve got to do something,” “I’m calling on the president and the Congress to come back in session…let’s do the work in Washington. Do the background check bill that we passed out of the House. We’ve got to ban these assault weapons.”
“Let’s be very clear about what is causing this and who the president is,”
O’Rourke said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“He is an open avowed racist and encouraging more racism in this country.” “This is ridiculous,”
he said. “
Honestly for a guy to drive 10 hours to go kill Mexicans like what happened in El Paso is sickening and I think the environment around anti-immigration, the race issues that are so polarizing today that the president throws gasoline on has got to stop.
”Ryan lumped much of the blame for the shootings on President Trump and the “environment the president has created in the United States.”
“This cannot be open for debate and you, as well as I, have a responsibility to call that out to make sure the American people know what is being done in their name,”
“He doesn’t even pretend to respect our differences or understand we are all created equal. He is saying some people are inherently defected.”
2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate Tim Ryan on Sunday called on Congress to immediately head back to session to pass a background check bill for those seeking to buy firearms and called for a ban on the purchase of assault weapons. Ryan added:
“We’ve got to bring this country together, we’ve got to heal and it’s got to start at the top. The president needs to take a leadership role in this, he’s got to stop being so divisive, he’s got to stop tipping his hat to the white nationalists, and sometimes overtly to them, to where he’s talking to some crazy guy who’s going to drive 10 hours to shoot Mexicans.”
Ryan is one of a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls who have singled out Trump’s divisive rhetoric and tough stance on issues like immigration as part of the reason why these recent mass shootings have occurred.