WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (CBS) – The White House pushed back on Sunday against any attempt to link President Donald Trump to the accused shooter who killed 50 people in two New Zealand mosques, saying the act of a disturbed individual cannot be blamed on any one politician.
Trump on Friday condemned the “horrible massacre” at the mosques and the White House called the shooting a “vicious act of hate.”
Asked by a reporter on Friday if he sees white nationalism as a rising threat around the world, Trump said: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people.”
The accused gunman’s manifesto praised the U.S. president as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” even though he did not support his policies. The reference revived criticism that Trump has not been strong enough in condemning hate speech and has fomented anti-Muslim sentiment.
Trump drew strong criticism in the days after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 when he equated white supremacists with counter-protesters and saying “both sides” were to blame.