Don Lemon: 'Ignorant' for Trump to say he sees no rise in right-wing extremism after New Zealand attack

Don Lemon: 'Ignorant' for Trump to say he sees no rise in right-wing extremism after New Zealand attack
© CNN

CNN anchor Don Lemon hammered President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE after he said he did not see a rise in white nationalism in the aftermath of a shooting at two New Zealand mosques Friday that killed 49 people.

“For him to not to be able to know that right-wing extremism is on the rise is very ignorant,” Lemon, a vocal critic of Trump, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

“And I think yes, he does whatever is politically expedient to him. He knows that he says he’s not racist, but the racists think he’s racist and they support him, and he doesn’t want to lose that support. He cannot win an election with just his base next time, and they are a very vocal and active part of his base.”

Lemon went on to berate Trump in his opening monologue for comments he made after the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. that killed one counter-proterster in which he said there were fine people “on both sides.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“But President Trump has a long history of minimizing the actions of white supremacists and other members of the hard right. Nobody’s forgotten, nobody’s forgotten what he said after that deadly white supremacist riot in Charlottesville,” he said.

“The president does not want to talk about it, but the fact is far right terrorists are increasingly dangerous, increasingly dangerous. How many times do we have to sound the alarm about this?...Well, here we are again.” 

Trump drew attention Friday when he appeared to dismiss the threat of white supremacism across the globe after a 28-year-old self-avowed white supremacist was arrested for the New Zealand attack. 

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if he sees a rise in white nationalism. “If you look what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet.” 

The suspect wrote a more than 70-page manifesto that employed an array of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and called Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Trump said Friday he had not read the manifesto while condemning the attack and offering New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern U.S. support in dealing with the shooting’s aftermath.