Biden: 'White supremacy is wrong, but it's not a mental illness'

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE pushed back Monday evening on President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE’s characterization of mental illness as the cause of an El Paso, Texas, mass shooting over the weekend.

"Hatred is sick, but it's not a mental illness," Biden said in a Monday interview on CNN. "White supremacy is wrong, but it's not mental illness."

ADVERTISEMENT

The suspect in the shooting, which killed at least 22 people on Saturday, has been tied to a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto that was posted online just before the attack began and speaks of a "Hispanic invasion of Texas."

Although President Trump condemned white supremacy in remarks Monday morning, they came after he tweeted that Congress should tie any gun control measures to immigration reform. Biden criticized Trump for equating the two issues, telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “They're not immigrants doing these things. They're American citizens doing these things.”

Biden warned that “the white supremacists are winning the battle” for the soul of the nation as things currently stand.

“This is domestic terrorism,” he added.

The former vice president, whose campaign announcement blasted Trump’s response to the deadly “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., said the El Paso shooting represented another “defining moment.”

“It’s a continuation,” Biden said. “I mean, this is the president who continues to speak in ways that just are completely contrary to everything who we are. I mean, referring to ... Mexicans as rapists and talking about the rats in Baltimore. I mean, the way he talks about people.”

Biden stopped short of declaring Trump himself a white supremacist, unlike candidates including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), whose hometown was the site of the shooting.

"Clearly his actions have done nothing to do anything other than encourage this kind of behavior," Biden said. "I'm not sure what this guy believes."

However, Biden expressed some agreement with Trump in tying the shooting and others like it to violent video games.

"It is not healthy having these games teaching kids this dispassionate notion you can ... blow their brains out," but added that "it's not in and of itself why we have this climate."