President Donald Trump will meet Tuesday in Pennsylvania with family members of those murdered during the weekend massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced.
“The American people reject hatred, bigotry, prejudice, and violence,” Sanders said. “We are a nation that believes in religious liberty, tolerance, and respect. We are a people who appreciate the dignity of every human life.”
First lady Melania Trump will travel with the president.
Sanders also fended off questions about Trump’s culpability in the shooting that killed 11 worshipers, and mail pipe bombs that targeted Democrats and political critics of the president.
Robert Bowers, 46, was charged with shooting and killing 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. He’s being charged with federal hate crimes.
“Our hearts ache for everyone who lost their lives, the 11 Jewish Americans who were murdered represented the very best of our nation and they were the religious heart of the Tree of Life community,” Sanders said, as her voice cracked several times when talking about the murders.
She noted that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are Jewish, and that the president has deep admiration for the Jewish community.
“The president cherishes the American Jewish community for everything it stands for and contributes to our country. He adores Jewish Americans,” Sanders said. “The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren. His daughter is a Jewish American and his son-in-law is a descendent of a Holocaust survivor.”
However, several reporters asked if Trump’s rhetoric stirred up people to commit violent acts, either in the case of the synagogue shooting or the pipe bombs sent to Democratic politicians.
Federal authorities charged Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, of Florida, a former male stripper who lived in a van decorated with pro-Trump bumper stickers and posters, in connection with sending 14 suspicious packages to Democratic politicians, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and to the address of CNN in New York, directed to former CIA Director John Brennan.
“The very first thing the president did was condemn the attacks both in Pittsburgh and the pipe bombs. The very first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts. That is outrageous that that would be the very first reaction,” Sanders said. “The only person responsible for carrying out either of these heinous acts were the individuals who carried them out.”
She referenced the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, by a fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who shot at multiple Republican lawmakers on the field.
“It’s not the president’s fault, any more than it was Bernie Sanders’ fault for the individual who shot up the baseball field of congressional Republicans,” the White House press secretary said.
Pressed on the matter by other reporters, she talked about the negative coverage—and seemingly cited a report by the Media Research Center that found 90 percent of coverage by CBC, NBC, and ABC news was negative.
“You guys have a huge responsibility to play in the divisive nature of this country when 90 percent of the coverage of everything this president does is negative, despite the fact that the country is doing extremely well, despite the fact that the president delivered on exactly what he said he was going to do if elected,” Sanders said.
It is sad and divisive the way that every single thing that comes out of the media—90 percent of what comes out of the media’s mouth is negative about this president.
Despite the fact that the economy is booming, despite the fact that he said he would fix the trade deals and he’s done that, despite the fact that he said he would defeat ISIS and he’s done that. The president has been delivering day in and day out and I think it would be nice if every once in a while you could focus on some of the positive things.
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