Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday the attack on a Poway, California, synagogue was an act of “domestic terrorism” and accused President Trump of fueling hate crimes like it to rise due to his rhetoric.
“Had there been someone from the Middle East involved in this, someone with a green card involved in this, can you imagine the alerts that would have come out from the White House about the threats of terrorism to the United States,” the Illinois Democrat said in an interview with CNN’s “New Day” show.
“And yet this president does just the opposite. With a wink and a nod he says to this nationalist and supremacists, ‘I know they’re just trying to protect the statues of Robert E. Lee,’ ” the senator added, referencing Mr. Trump’s explanation about why he said there were “very fine people on both sides” following the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, riots.
When challenged on the president’s quick condemnation at a Green Bay, Wisconsin, rally of the synagogue attack this weekend, Mr. Durbin praised the president for doing so but said Mr. Trump has given people “license” to attack places of worship.
“The point I’m getting to is why do these people feel they have license now to attack synagogues, to attack Sikh temples, to attack churches across the United States. This is really been fomented because of the rhetoric we’re hearing from the White House,” Mr. Durbin said.
“I think the president and his rhetoric is very loose and as a consequence, people feel a permission slip to move forward in areas they never have before,” the senator added.
Mr. Trump offered condolences Monday for the victims of the California synagogue shooting that left one person dead and three injured. The suspect in the deadly shooting, 19-year-old John T. Earnest, turned himself into the police shortly after the attack.