Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday defended President Donald Trump when asked about his boss’ response to the horrific mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which some have criticized as inadequate.
“The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that,” Mulvaney chuckled on “Fox News Sunday” when asked by host Chris Wallace why Trump doesn’t give a speech explicitly condemning anti-Muslim bigotry following the shootings, in which an alleged white supremacist killed at least 49 people.
Mulvaney repeatedly declined to answer why Trump apparently doesn’t intend to make such an address in which he could also directly denounce white supremacy. Finally, Mulvaney said, “Maybe we do that. maybe we don’t.”
In responding to the killings in New Zealand, Trump said that he didn’t see white nationalism as a rising threat around the world. He also did not directly express sympathy for the Muslim community at home and abroad.
“He ought to state unambiguously that the New Zealand suspect’s ‘replacement’ ideology is an unacceptable trope in civilized discourse,” The Washington Post editorial board wrote on Friday.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern has said that in a phone conversation with Trump following the mosque attacks, she told him that the best way to support her country would be to show “sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.”
Trump in his public response to the attacks offered his sympathy to “the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques,” but he has yet to express any words of support to Muslims there or in the U.S.
“I think it’s a horrible disgraceful thing, horrible act,” Trump said Friday when asked about the shootings.
The suspected Australian gunman wrote in a manifesto that he supported Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” according to the Post. He reportedly also said he was inspired by white supremacist Dylann Roof, who killed nine blacks at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015.
Mulvaney said Sunday that “to simply ask the question every time something like this happens overseas or even domestically, to say, ‘Oh my goodness, it must somehow be the president’s fault,’ speaks to a politicization of everything that is undermining the institutions that we have in the country today.”
In a Sunday appearance on CNN, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) urged Trump to send a “very loud and clear” signal against hate and extremism. She lamented that her Muslim son is “growing up in a country where he’s become a target just because of his faith.”
“You can’t just say it isn’t when the facts say the opposite,” Tlaib said of Trump discounting the rise white nationalism across the globe.
Tlaib along with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in November became the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Since taking office, Tlaib has been among the handful of Democratic lawmakers pushing for impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Trump on Sunday did use his preferred method of communication ― Twiter ― to express support for Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, who on her March 9 program questioned whether Omar, by wearing a hijab in Congress, was “antithetical to the [U.S.] Constitution.”
Pirro’s remarks earned her widespread condemnation ― including from Fox News itself ― and her show was off the air on Saturday night. Trump interpreted that as an effort to “silence a majority of our Country.”