- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 4, 2019

In the aftermath of this weekend’s mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, top Democrats on Sunday raced to blame President Trump for fomenting what they described as a toxic stew of violence and white nationalism, and called for immediate action on new gun controls.

While Republicans struggled to present a unified response to the tragedies, several Democratic presidential candidates accused Mr. Trump of inciting white supremacists with his words and policies, from trying to impose stronger security at the border with Mexico to engaging in high-profile feuds with black and Muslim Democratic lawmakers.

“This president is encouraging greater racism, and not just the racist rhetoric but the violence that so often follows,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas said on CNN. “Calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, warning of an invasion at our border, seeking to ban all people of one religion. It encourages the kind of violence that we’re seeing, including in my hometown of El Paso.”

Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, said Mr. Trump “has to stop that racism and that xenophobia immediately.”

“I am sure that President Trump does not want anybody in this country to go around shooting other people,” Mr. Sanders told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But what he has got to understand is that when you have language that is racist, that is virulently anti-immigrant, there are mentally unstable people in this country, who see that as a sign to do terrible, terrible things.”

The White House rejected accusations that Mr. Trump bears responsibility for the shootings. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the administration is willing to discuss “the role of guns” in the latest mass violence, but added that social media and mental illness also need to be addressed.

SEE ALSO: Trump: FBI, local and state law enforcement coordinating on El Paso, Dayton shootings

“We’ve had guns in this country for hundreds of years. We haven’t had this until recently and we need to figure out why,” Mr. Mulvaney said on ABC’s “This Week.” “If we can agree on one thing as a nation — Democrat, Republican and independent, I don’t care — it is that crazy people like this should not have been able to get guns.”

Presidential adviser Ivanka Trump also weighed in with a proposal.

“Congress should enact Red Flag laws/ Extreme Risk Protection Orders in EVERY state and increase resources dedicated to mental health support,” the president’s daughter tweeted.

She also said, “White supremacy, like all other forms of terrorism, is an evil that must be destroyed.”

Mr. Trump, who was spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff as a sign of respect for the victims of the shootings that claimed at least 29 lives and wounded dozens of others. The president was briefed on the tragedies by advisers.

Many lawmakers urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, to cancel the Senate’s August recess to take up two House-passed gun-control measures.

“This is a time that demands not words but actions,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who also called for a ban on assault weapons. “As we have seen time and time again, it is far too easy for bad people to buy guns in our country. Congress must act now.”

But many top Democrats were unified in directing their criticism at Mr. Trump, after the party’s presidential candidates spent much of last week attacking each other in their second primary debate.

Sen. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey lamented a lack of will to name and confront “right-wing” and “white supremacist” violence in the U.S.

“Donald Trump is responsible for this,” Mr. Booker said on CNN. “He is stoking fears and hatred and bigotry. He is failing to condemn white supremacy.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, said the kind of hatred that produced the two shootings “is being legitimized from on high.”

“This is part of a climate where people who are in the grip of this hateful extremist ideology feel validated, and they feel validated from all the way at the top,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio Democrat, said the “manifesto” of the alleged shooter in El Paso “is so similar to the kind of language that you hear at a Trump rally, [and] you see in his tweets.”

“The president isn’t just speaking to, you know, really smart people, who are stable at his rallies,” Mr. Ryan said on CNN. “He’s speaking to the lowest common denominator, to where this jackass gets in a car and drives 10 hours to go kill Latinos and Hispanics and Mexicans, mostly Mexicans. I mean, he’s creating a culture and an environment in which this stuff keeps happening.”

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