Tweets from President Donald Trump on Monday morning indicate his response to the mass shootings that took place over the weekend will draw from the same playbook he’s used in previous cases: proposing legislation that doesn’t address the root causes of gun violence, and trying to shift blame.
First, Trump proposed that in response to the violence in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Congress should considering tying background check legislation to unrelated legislation to curtail legal immigration.
....this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2019
But there’s no indication that background checks would have necessarily prevented the El Paso and Dayton shooters from obtaining the high-powered weapons they used to carry out their attacks, as neither of them had substantial criminal records. (There were some major red flags in the case of the Dayton shooter, however, including that he once caused a school lockdown by writing a hit list on a bathroom wall.) And by trying to use the El Paso shooting — which, according to the shooter’s manifesto, was motived by “invasion” conspiracy theories about immigrants that Trump himself has pushed — as leverage for immigration legislation, the president is giving credence to the shooter’s cause.
During an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said Trump’s attempt to link background checks with new immigration restrictions “reminds me of the 1930s in Germany.”
“What’s the connection between background checks for guns and immigration reform? That we have to keep guns out of the hands out of the invading hordes of less-than-human people coming across our borders?” Nadler said. “That’s disgusting.”
Minutes after Nadler’s interview ended, El Paso resident and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke went on Morning Joe and also compared the Trump presidency to Nazi Germany, saying Trump “has been racist from day one, before day one, when he was questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the US.”
This president’s open racism is an invitation to violence. The writing has been on the wall since his maiden speech coming down that escalator calling immigrants "rapists and criminals." The actions that follow cannot surprise us. pic.twitter.com/jSBbAQROF0— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 5, 2019
“[T]hese terrible problems will only get worse!”
Meanwhile, Trump posted another tweet trying to pin blame on the media, going as far as to write that “these terrible problems will only get worse” unless news coverage starts “being fair” — his suggestion seemingly being that mass shootings will continue unless the media covers him more positively.
The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2019
Trump’s attempt to blame the media echoes tweets he posted last fall after a fan of his sent explosive devices to Democratic leaders and CNN. In that case as well, Trump tried to shift blame to the press, tweeting that “[t]here is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news” and characterizing the media as “the true Enemy of the People.”
As Benjy Sarlin of NBC noted, Trump’s latest attempt to blame the media bears an eerie resemblance to the El Paso shooter’s manifesto.
I am extremely loathe to publicize his words, but the president’s tweet today and the racist creed the shooter posted overlap to the point that they’re hard to distinguish with the names removed pic.twitter.com/QZGHeB4i4b— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 5, 2019
While the president uses the latest acts of mass gun violence to push for immigration legislation and as an opportunity to attack the press, prominent Republicans went on TV on Sunday and tried to blame violent video games. The common denominator seems to be to do everything possible to avoid talking about white supremacy and guns.