Despite the suspect saying he was a leftist who hates President Donald Trump, the attack on a synagogue in Poway, Calif., on Saturday has put “Trump on the defensive” and prompted “even some Republicans to acknowledge that the president is taking a political risk by continuing to stand by his Charlottesville comments,” the Washington Post wrote Monday.
In “As Trump stands by Charlottesville remarks, rise of white-nationalist violence becomes an issue in 2020 presidential race,” Felicia Somnez and Ashley Parker of the Post blamed Trump for the attack.
The suspect, John T. Earnest, 19, of Rancho Penasquitos, Calif., appeared to want to copy Brenton Tarrant, the Australian white nationalist who killed 50 people in attacks on mosques in New Zealand.
He released a nine-page manifesto, some of which is in the question-and-answer format Tarrant used to brag about his escapades.
The Los Angeles Times says he also “championed” Robert Bowers, who killed 11 people and wounded six more at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Bowers, Earnest and Tarrant all expressed disdain for President Trump – Earnest saying he “does not support President Trump because of his support for Israel,” according to the Times, although it did quote Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League blaming the attacks on “a particularly deadly strain” of “anti-Semitism coming from the extreme right.”
“First came Joe Biden’s campaign announcement video highlighting President Trump’s ‘very fine people on both sides’ comment about the 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left a counter-protester dead.
“Then Trump dug in, arguing that he was referring not to the self-professed neo-Nazi marchers, but to those who had opposed the removal of a statue of the “great Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“Less than 24 hours came another act of violence described by authorities as a hate crime: Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Poway, Calif., in which a gunman killed one person and injured three others.
“Those events have pushed the rising tide of white nationalism to the forefront of the 2020 presidential campaign, putting Trump on the defensive and prompting even some Republicans to acknowledge that the president is taking a political risk by continuing to stand by his Charlottesville comments.”
The Post then quotes Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist, without reporting that Williams is a former aide to Mitt Romney, who has been highly critical of Trump.
“The president’s handling of Charlottesville was not one of the finer moments of his time in office,” Williams said. “He shouldn’t take Joe Biden’s bait and re-litigate this controversy.”
The president re-litigated the controversy to fight the same false accusations leveled against him when it happened. He pointed to the part of his remarks where he said “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists – because they should be condemned totally. But you had people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”
The Post article points out Trump condemned the killings, condemned, in the words of top aide Kellyanne Conway, “all white supremacy, all neo-Nazis, all anti-Christianity, all anti-Semitism, all anti-Muslim activity …” and that the president spoke with the head of the synagogue.
But “Nonetheless, the rise of white-nationalist violence during Trump’s tenure is emerging as an issue as the president turns his attention toward his reelection campaign,” the Post wrote.
The Post then claims “Trump also has a history of anti-Muslim remarks” and that he “doubled down on his remarks in response to Biden’s video,” but never explained why he shouldn’t amplify remarks condemning hatred and bigotry.