O'Rourke: Trump is a 'racist,' responsible for El Paso shooting

Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBeto O'Rourke calls Texas GOP 'a death cult' over coronavirus response Hegar, West to face off in bitter Texas Senate runoff Bellwether counties show trouble for Trump MORE (D-Texas) said Saturday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE bears some responsibility for a shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed at least 20 people.

Asked by news reporters whether the president was at all responsible for the shooting, O'Rourke, who formerly served on the El Paso City Council and as mayor pro tem, responded firmly.

"Yes. We've had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years, during an administration where you have a president who's called Mexicans rapists and criminals," O'Rourke said Saturday evening.

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"He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country," the former congressman and current 2020 candidate for president continued. "It does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country, and it leads to violence."

O'Rourke's statement came after politicians from both parties, including Trump, expressed their condolences following the shooting Saturday that injured as many as 20 people and killed at least 18, according to media reports.

Texas officials confirmed that the suspect, identified as a 21-year-old male from the Dallas area, was the author of a racist and anti-immigrant screed that appeared on the website 8chan before the attack.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), denounced the shooting as an act of "white terrorism" in a statement Saturday shortly before O'Rourke's remarks.