Warren: 'White supremacists pose a threat to the United States like any other terrorist group'

Warren: 'White supremacists pose a threat to the United States like any other terrorist group'
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court MORE (D-Mass.) pledged Monday to combat white supremacy if elected president, saying that white supremacists "pose a threat to the United States like any other terrorist group."

An audience member at a CNN town hall in Mississippi noted that hate crimes have increased during President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE's time in office "and white supremacists have become more emboldened." The audience member then asked Warren what she planned to do "to unite the country.”

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Warren, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, responded that it "starts with the fact that we’ve got to recognize the threat posed by white nationalism."

"White supremacists pose a threat to the United States like any other terrorist group, like [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria], like al Qaeda and leadership starts at the top. And that means you’ve got to call it out," she said.

Warren also said she would use the Department of Justice to prosecute white supremacists when they break the law.

“As president of the United States, you’ve got to use the tools available to you. And that means get the Justice Department, when they break the law, to go after them with full prosecution," she said. 

Warren's remarks come as Trump has faced criticism for his response to acts motivated by white nationalism and white supremacism.

After an attack last week at two New Zealand mosques that left 50 dead, Trump said he didn't think white nationalism was a growing global threat.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. It’s certainly a terrible thing," the president said.