In his first remarks—not on Twitter—since dual-mass shootings rocked the nation this weekend, President Donald Trump addressed White House pool reporters Monday morning, saying the U.S. must condemn “racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” ABC News reports.
Patrick Crusius, 21, the domestic terrorist who killed 20 (mostly Latinx) people in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart Saturday morning posted a white supremacist manifesto on 8chan hours before he opened fire. Mere hours later, Connor Betts, 24, killed 9 people, including his sister Megan Betts, in Dayton, Ohio, in approximately 30 seconds. Though former classmates have said that Betts was known as a bully who kept a “rape list” and a “hit list,” no specific motive has been determined for his killing spree.
In total, 29 people were killed in both mass shootings and over 80 people were injured.
During his remarks Monday morning, Trump leaned into dangerous ableist stereotypes by calling the shooters “mentally ill monsters,” though there is no evidence that suggests that either of these men have been diagnosed with any mental illness. Trump also doubled down on NRA rhetoric that it’s people and hatred, not guns, who pull the trigger in these cases, while not taking any accountability for flaming the fires of that hatred himself.
The former reality TV star, who launched his 2016 presidential bid by calling Mexicans rapists who would bring crime and drugs into the country, has repeatedly called the migration of Latinx people into the U.S. an “invasion” that must be stopped, either by a dystopian border wall or by holding immigrants and refugees in concentration camps at the U.S.-Mexico border.
During a rally in May in Panama City Beach, Florida, Trump chuckled when someone in the audience yelled “shoot them” in response to him asking, “How do you stop these people?” from crossing the border illegally.
“That’s only in the panhandle you get away with that statement,” Trump said as his supporters cheered and laughed. “Only in the panhandle.”
While Trump hasn’t taken any responsibility for his own violent rhetoric, he did make time to later tweet about his favorite foe, mainstream media, indirectly blaming the mass shootings on “fake news” for “contributing greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.”
In closing his remarks, the president said that he and First Lady Melania Trump—who first came to the U.S. from Slovenia in 1996, and used a string of working visas until becoming a U.S. citizen in 2006–would always support the families of those killed in this weekend’s mass shootings.
If that’s so, it might be helpful for Trump to know where the shootings actually happened and where the families are located.
“If we are able to pass great legislation after all of these years, we will ensure that those who were attacked will not have died in vain. May God bless the memory of those who died in Toledo. May God protect them,” he said, even though Toledo is almost 150 miles away from Dayton.
See Trump’s full remarks on the dual mass shootings below: