March 17, 2019 10:56 am
Updated: March 17, 2019 1:59 pm

White House pushes back against attempts to link Trump to New Zealand mosque shooter

WATCH: White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pushed back against attempts to link President Donald Trump to the New Zealand mosque shooting in an interview on Face the Nation, saying people can't keep believing there's a "causal link" between Trump being president and attacks like Christchurch.

A A

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.

Story continues below

“The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that,” White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Trump on Friday condemned the “horrible massacre” at the mosques and the White House called the shooting a “vicious act of hate.”

READ MORE: Cory Booker slags Trump’s ‘bigoted, sexist rhetoric,’ but won’t blame him for New Zealand shootings 

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.

WATCH: Trump doesn’t see white nationalist threat in wake of New Zealand mosque shootings

“I don’t think it’s fair to cast this person as a supporter of Donald Trump,” Mulvaney said. “Any more than it is to look at his eco-terrorist passages in that manifesto and align him with (Democratic House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi or Ms. Ocasio-Cortez,” a Democratic congresswoman.

“This was a disturbed individual, an evil person,” he said.

READ MORE: U.S. Muslim group urges Trump to condemn New Zealand mosque shootings as ‘white supremacist terrorist attacks’

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.

“Time and time again, this president has embraced and emboldened white supremacists—and instead of condemning racist terrorists, he covers for them. This isn’t normal or acceptable,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter after Friday’s mosque shootings.

WATCH: Trump expresses sorrow, U.S. with New Zealand ‘all the way’ in call to PM after mosque attacks

© 2019 Reuters

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.