In the wake of a mass shooting in New Zealand that claimed at least 50 lives, it is President Donald Trump who is the victim, the president tweeted on Monday morning.
The Hill noted that Trump accused the news media of blaming him for the attacks at two mosques in Christchurch last week, writing on Twitter: “The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one. So Ridiculous!”
In fact, the alleged shooter named Trump as one of his inspirations in a 74-page manifesto, which the media has covered over the last several days. The suspected gunman referenced Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity.”
Many pundits and politicians have expressed the belief that Trump’s rhetoric — often anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and reticent to criticize white nationalism — has offered a welcome home to those holding white supremacist views.
“I think sometimes you simply have to yield to the objective evidence, and that is, it points to him being sympathetic to that point of view,” former Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said Monday morning on CNN.
Currently Minnesota’s attorney general, Ellison was the first Muslim elected to Congress, The Hill noted.
For his part, Trump has downplayed the threat of white nationalism across the globe, telling reporters on Sunday he does not believe the ideology poses a significant risk.
“I don't really, I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” Trump said.
But just last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center — which tracks hate group activity in the United States — released a report showing that among an increase in hate groups overall, "white nationalist groups have seen the most significant growth in the past two years, jumping from 193 to 264."
White House officials emerged to defend the president against accusations of white nationalism or encouraging such views, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
“The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that,” he said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.