Following the New Zealand mosque massacre in which 50 people died, President Donald Trump claimed white nationalism was not on the rise and downplayed its role in the deadly attack. Trump said such beliefs are only held by a “small group of people” who have “serious problems.”
His comments, however, were not received well by everyone, with Democrats clashing with White House officials over the issue, especially after reports that in his manifesto, the attacker had called Trump a “symbol of renewed white identity.”
President Trump told reporters Friday that he didn’t see white nationalism as a rising issue, saying, “I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. They’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing. Terrible thing.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that in the past few years, the FBI, human rights groups and think tanks have noticed a rise in hate crimes stemming from white nationalist motives.
“There’s real data and information of the rise of white supremacy right here in this United States of America,” said Representative Rashida Tlaib. “He needs to look at the data and information and facts …. He cannot just say it’s a small group of people.”
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended Trump on Sunday, saying during a CBS interview that “every time something happens everywhere around the world, folks who don’t like Donald Trump seem to blame it on Donald Trump.”
He argued there was no connection between Trump’s presidency and such horrific events. His sentiment was echoed by GOP Senator Pat Toomey, who said, “it’s a long way to attributing any kind of real link between what the president might say or tweet and the extraordinary type of madness that leads someone to massacre people in large numbers.”