Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Friday condemned President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE for declining to speak out against a Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting to commit an act of white nationalist terrorism.
“Why would we be surprised that a self-proclaimed nationalist would not speak out against a self-proclaimed white nationalist?” Steele asked during an appearance on MSNBC.
“Why are we acting like this is a space that Donald Trump is going to go in on behalf of the American ideal? No, he’s not,” he continued.
Steele’s comments came after Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson was accused by federal prosecutors of stockpiling weapons and creating a hit list of prominent journalists and left-wing politicians.
The president remarked on the news Friday, calling it a “shame.”
"I think it’s a very sad thing when a thing like that happens,” Trump said when asked about the case.
Asked whether his rhetoric was partly to blame for attacks aimed at journalists, Trump said "No, I don't."
“I think my language is very nice,” he added.
Steele, frequent critic of the president and today's Republican Party, slammed the president for not speaking out more strongly against Hasson.
“These are his people,” he said. “And he’s not going to thank law enforcement because he’s probably not happy about what law enforcement did.”
“My glass is no longer half full, it’s just overflowing with all of the crazy... why would we be surprised that a self-proclaimed nationalist would not speak out against a self-proclaimed white nationalist?... These are [Trump's] people."@MichaelSteele w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/xstvt0c2ys— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) February 22, 2019
Hasson, a self-proclaimed white nationalist, called for the use of violence to “establish a white homeland” and had a hit list of prominent Democrats, court records showed.
Law enforcement officials said they found 15 firearms and at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as a list of politicians and journalists Hasson intended to kill.
The list allegedly includes Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions Louisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezFeehery: The confidence game Democrats face full legislative plate and rising tensions McCarthy on Dems' spending bill: 'The amount of money we spent to win World War II' MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam House passes bill to compensate 'Havana syndrome' victims Harris 'deeply troubled' by treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program MORE (D-N.J.).
Hasson was first arrested on gun and drug charges, but prosecutors later filed a motion for Hasson to be detained before his trial.
Critics of Trump, including members of the media, have accused Trump of endangering journalists with his rhetoric.
Trump earlier this week said The New York Times was the "enemy of the people" a day after the outlet published a lengthy report about Trump's attacks on the investigations of his campaign and administration.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Friday that Trump has only ever condemned violence against the media.
“I certainly don’t think that the president has at any point done anything but condemn violence against journalists or anyone else. In fact, every single time something like this happens, the president is typically one of the first people to condemn the violence and the media is the first people to blame the president,” Sanders said Friday when asked if the president had any intention of toning down his criticism of the media.
“We should all join together and condemn the violence whether it’s against members of the media, whether it’s against Democrats, Republicans, any person in this country,” she added.