WASHINGTON – Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday there’s no link between President Trump and the New Zealand shooter, a white supremacist who spouted anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Mulvaney said the attack that killed 50 people was a “terrible, evil, tragic act” carried out by a “disturbed individual.”
But Fox News’ Chris Wallace pressed him on previous comments Trump made, including “I think Islam hates us” during a CNN interview in 2016.
Trump also mentioned the “invasion of drugs and criminals” on Friday when he vetoed a congressional resolution blocking his emergency declaration to build a wall on the southern border.
Wallace asked if Trump has considered making a major speech “condemning anti-Muslim, white supremacist bigotry?” because of the criticism he has faced.
“The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that,” Mulvaney replied.
“And to simply ask the question every time something 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 I think is undermining sort of the institutions that we have in the country today,” Mulvaney added.
While Trump labeled the mosque killings “monstrous terror attacks,” he said he doesn’t view nationalism as a wide threat because “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
On Sunday, Trump spent his morning defending Judge Jeanine Pirro, the Fox News host under fire for making anti-Muslim remarks about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.
On CBS’ “Face the Nation” Mulvaney said he wanted to “push back against this idea that every time something bad happens around the world folks who don’t like Donald Trump seem to blame it on Donald Trump.”
“Donald Trump isn’t more to blame for what happened in New Zealand than Mark Zuckerberg is cause he invented Facebook,” Mulvaney told “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan.
The killer had live-streamed the massacre at two mosques before the video was finally taken down.
Mulvaney said finger pointing is a waste of time.
“The issue is how do you stop these crazy people? Whether or not there’s one of them or four of them doesn’t make a difference if they’re willing to go on live TV and stream the murder of people. That’s where time is better spent,” he said. “Instead of worrying about who’s to blame – how do we stop [them] from doing this?”
Brennan also asked Mulvaney why the president wouldn’t directly address white supremacy and anti-Muslim hatred.
“The president communicates in his way, different presidents communicate in their way,” Mulvaney said. “I don’t think anybody can claim that Donald Trump hasn’t done exactly what we want to do in this circumstance.”