A top White House official said Sunday President Trump "is not a white supremacist" and attempts to tie him to the alleged New Zealand mosque shooter are "absurd," per the AP. Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, described the New Zealand shooter as a "disturbed individual" and "evil person" and said it was unfair to cast the 28-year-old Australian "as a supporter of Donald Trump any more than it is to look at his, sort of his eco-terrorist passages in that manifesto and align him with Nancy Pelosi or Ms. [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez." Mulvaney calls the shooter "a disturbed individual, an evil person, and to try and tie him to an American politician from either party probably ignores some of the deeper, difficulties that this sort of activity exposes."
Still, Mulvaney's defense of Trump failed to quiet calls, chiefly from Democrats, for the president to issue a forceful denunciation of white nationalism. They argue that Trump's rhetoric, including harsh comments about immigrants and Muslims, encourages individuals like the New Zealand shooter. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the man accused of the deadly shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, left behind a lengthy document stating he was a white nationalist who hates immigrants and was set off by attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims. "Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?" was one of the questions he posed to himself in the document. His answer: "As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no." (See how New Zealand is moving on gun control after the shooting.)