White House denounces 'act of hate' in New Zealand mosque shooting
Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
Published Friday, March 15, 2019 2:15PM EDT
NEW YORK - U.S. President Donald Trump has sent condolences to the victims of the New Zealand mosque massacre, and the White House issued a statement denouncing the "vicious act of hate."
The gunman accused of being behind at least one of the mosque shootings left a rambling manifesto that mentioned Trump in a single reference, calling him "a symbol of renewed white identity."
The White House is denouncing that as "outrageous."
But the reference nonetheless cast an uncomfortable spotlight on the way Trump has been embraced by some on the far right.
The president tweeted today that his "warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured."
The man accused of the shootings, whose name was not immediately released, left behind a 74-page document that outlined his motivations.
He is a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants and who was set off by attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims.
He embraced Nazi imagery, voiced support for fascism and, at one point, cheered on Trump.
"Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?" was one of the questions the manifesto's author posed to himself.
His answer: "As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no."
Trump, who as a candidate proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, has drawn criticism as being slow to condemn white supremacy and related violence.
Trump's hardline immigration rhetoric and calls to return America to its traditional past have been embraced by many on the conservative fringes, including those who troll online with racist imagery, as well as white supremacists who have looked to engage in violence.