Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday defended President Donald Trump after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, calling the shooters “sick people” and disputing that either shooting was linked to politics.
“This is not appropriate. This is way beyond the pale. These are sick people,” Mulvaney said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Mulvaney’s comments came as Democrats argued that Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about immigrants and people of color has fueled the type of hatred on display in a manifesto that investigators believe was posted online by the El Paso shooting suspect, which listed angry – and, at times, jumbled – motivations for the attack, including rants about a “Hispanic invasion.”
“He doesn’t just tolerate – he encourages the type of open racism” and violence that follows, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, who is running for president, said of Trump on “This Week.” O’Rourke was appearing from his hometown of El Paso.
Mulvaney on Sunday suggested that the White House is willing to reopen the debate on gun control in the wake of the shootings. “If we can agree on one thing as a nation … it is that crazy people like this should not have been able to get guns,” he said.
But he was defiant in pushing back against critics who argue that Trump has played a role in inciting hatred, citing the alleged manifesto saying the writer’s views on Latino immigrants predate Trump.
“If you actually go and look at it, what the guy says is he’s felt this way a long time before Donald Trump got elected president,” Mulvaney said.
The acting White House chief of staff also disputed that Trump has played down the threat of white nationalism. “No, I don’t believe that’s downplaying it,” he said.
In March, after the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 49 Muslims were killed, Trump said he did not believe white nationalism was a rising global danger.
“I don’t really,” the president said when asked at the White House whether white nationalists were a growing threat around the world. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. It’s certainly a terrible thing.”
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Felicia Sonmez