WASHINGTON President Donald Trump on Sunday championed a Fox News personality who made anti-Muslim remarks as his White House rejected any attempt to link the US leader to a shooter who killed 50 people in two New Zealand mosques.
The violence against Muslims in New Zealand on Friday put a spotlight on Trump’s rhetoric about Islam and revived criticism of his handling of white supremacist violence.
“Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro,” Trump wrote in Twitter posts in which he blamed Democrats for trying to “silence a majority of our Country” and advocated supporters to “stop working soooo hard on being politically correct.”
At the same time, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney appeared on Sunday television news shows to tamp down criticism that Trump has not been strong enough in condemning hate speech and has fomented anti-Muslim sentiment.
“The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday”.
On Friday, Trump condemned the “horrible massacre” at the mosques and the White House called the shooting a “vicious act of hate". Asked by a reporter if he saw white nationalism as a rising threat around the world, Trump said: “I don’t really. I think its a small group of people.”
The accused gunman praised Trump in a manifesto as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Mulvaney said the mosque massacres were the work of a disturbed individual and it would not be fair to align the shooter with Trump or any other politician.
“I disagree that there’s a causal link between Donald Trump being president and something like this happening in New Zealand,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation".
Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2019