It’s bad when the acting White House chief of staff has to go on Sunday morning cable news talk shows and insist that the president of the United States is not a white supremacist. But here we are.
Mick Mulvaney wouldn’t have to do these things if Donald Trump didn’t continue to provide repeated examples that this is, in fact, true.
Mulvaney was confronted by Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace with some of Trump’s bigotry, including Islamophobic, racist, and anti-immigrant statements he’s made in the past.
One of Wallace’s questions seemed to catch Mulvaney off guard: “To the degree that there is an issue with white supremacists, white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigotry in this country, and there is an issue with that, why not deliver a speech condemning it?” Wallace asked.
Mulvaney scoffed at the question, replying that, “You’ve seen the president stand up for religious liberties, individual liberties. The president is not a white supremacist.” Mulvaney laughed as he said this.
He added, “I’m not sure how many times we have to say that. And to simply ask the question every time something like this happens overseas, or even domestically, to say, ‘Oh my goodness, it must somehow be the president’s fault,’ speaks to a politicization of everything that I think is undermining…the institutions that we have in the country today.”
As you might have noticed, Mulvaney’s not very good at subtle spin. With this particular comment, he knows Donald Trump will never deliver a speech denouncing anti-Muslim bigotry. So he makes the issue about pinning the Christchurch massacre on Trump—a position Wallace said he didn’t agree with earlier in the interview.
Wallace pointed out that “the president speaks out about a lot of things that he’s not responsible for…Why not make a speech and make it clear that there is no place in America for this kind of hatred?” he asked.
Mulvaney referred Wallace to a Trump’s tweets. “I’m not sure what more you want the president to do,” he said.
As a refresher, here’s what Trump tweeted on Friday:
Later, he added:
In the past 72 hours, Trump has tweeted at least 40 times. The subjects of those tweets include attacks against the FBI, the Mueller probe, the late Sen. John McCain, the news media, Saturday Night Live, “Radical Left Democrats,” “Crooked Hillary,” the Paris Agreement, Google, immigrants, and the Iran nuclear agreement. He even tweeted content (twice) from the notorious racist Lou Dobbs.
Only three tweets referred to the Christchurch massacre, and none of those mentioned Islamophobia, white supremacy, white terrorism, or hate. And he used the same number of tweets to defend Jeanine Pirro’s recent Islamophobic comments and Tucker Carlson’s awful, racist, misogynist, and abusive statements a decade ago.
Of course, no one would expect anything different from Trump at this point. But let’s not forget that the same day Trump tweeted about the massacre, he also referred to immigrants as invaders, just like the Christchurch shooter.
In another Sunday appearance by Mulvaney on CBS’ Face the Nation, host Margaret Brennan also asked about the threat of white supremacy.
“I want to push back against this idea that every time something bad happens everywhere around the world, folks who don’t like Donald Trump seem to blame it on Donald Trump,” Mulvaney replied.
Brennan called Mulvaney out on the diversionary tactic.
“Is the president aware that this is a rising threat?” she asked.
“Again, rising threat? I think the president, you saw him asked the other day, does he think it’s a rising threat, and he says no. I think there’s information that would back that up,” Mulvaney said.
On Friday, Trump was asked if he believed white nationalists are a growing threat around the world. He responded: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. It’s certainly a terrible thing.”