Making his first formal remarks after the weekend mass shootings, President Donald Trump said Monday said the nation was overcome with “shock” and “sorrow” and that the nation must condemn “white supremacy.”
Trump said a “wicked man” went to a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, in that mass shooting and said a “twisted monster” carried out the shooting in Dayton, Ohio, just hours later.
“These barbaric slaughters” are an “attack on our nation,” Trump said.
“Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” the president said.
He said glorying violence on the internet must stop. “The perils of internet and social media cannot be ignored and will not be ignored,” the president said.
He also said we need to strengthen mental health laws. “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
“Today I am also directing the Department of Justice to propose legislation ensuring that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the death penalty and that this capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively…” the president said.
Trump said the country needs to put partisanship aside, saying it is “not up to mentally ill monsters, it is up to us.”
Television networks carrled the president’s remarks live but it was not a formal speech to the nation. Trump spoke before pool reporters and cameras from the Diplomatic Room of the White House, not the Oval Office. Vice President Mike Pence stood at his side.
The president did not repeat his suggestion about gun background checks that he tweeted about earlier Monday.
Trump proposed “strong background checks,” perhaps, he said, tied to immigration reform.
In tweets earlier Monday morning, the president said, “We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain.”
At the same time, Trump also blamed the news media for “the anger and rage that has built up over many years.”
Trump has threatened to veto two background check bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to consider them.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has demanded that McConnell call the Senate back from its August recess.
He fired off a tweet of his own Monday morning responding to Trump.
It was unclear how either of the shootings were related to immigration reform, as Trump suggested.
Trump’s Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, speaking on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, rejected claims from Democratic candidates and others that the president’s harsh rhetoric on immigration played any role in the shootings.
Before returning to Washington from his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday evening, the president said “Hate has no place on our country.”