President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump will head to Pittsburgh today, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at a press briefing on Monday.
At the beginning of the press briefing, Sanders called the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh “a chilling act of mass murder” as well as an “act of hatred,” saying that all Americans have a duty to confront the plague of anti-Semitism. “The American people reject hatred, bigotry, prejudice and violence,” she added.
CNN writes that the deadly shooting at the synagogue in which 11 people were killed by a man claiming he “just wanted to kill Jews,” was the deadliest anti-Semitic incident in U.S. history.
The White House press secretary further noted that President Trump “cherishes” the Jewish community even more so as his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and three grandchildren are Jewish.
“The President cherishes the American Jewish community for everything it stands for and contributes to our country. He adores Jewish Americans as part of his own family. The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren,” Sanders pointed out. “His daughter is a Jewish American and his son-in-law is a descendant of Holocaust survivors.”
The President and First Lady will travel to Pittsburgh to show support for the Jewish community, despite a group of Pittsburgh Jewish leaders urging Trump in a letter not to make the trip. The group said Trump’s words and policies over the past three years “have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” adding that he is not welcome until he “fully (denounces) white nationalism.”
Tammy Hepps, a member of “Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh” further accused Trump of being indirectly responsible for the killings, saying that “the blood of these victims is on President Trump’s hands.”
“That he has knowingly and intentionally and selfishly for years used this rhetoric to endanger our community and all the other communities that have been on the front line since he took office and even before that,” Hepps noted.
However, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was leading services at Tree of Life during Saturday’s shooting, said that President Trump was always welcome. “I’m a citizen. He’s my president. He is certainly welcome.”