Mulvaney after New Zealand attacks: Trump 'is not a white supremacist'

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Trump ditches one-on-one meetings with vice president: report Dems demand documents on Trump 'sanctuary city' plan MORE on Sunday rejected any connection between an alleged gunman who killed dozens of people in New Zealand and President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE, saying that "the president is not a white supremacist."

"The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that," Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday."

"And to simply ask the question every time something like this happens overseas or even domestically, to say 'Oh my goodness. It must somehow be the president’s fault,' speaks to a politicization of everything that I think is undermining sort of the institutions that we have in the country today," he continued.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Let’s take what happened in New Zealand yesterday for what it is — a terrible, evil, tragic act — and figure out why those things are becoming more prevalent in the world," he said. "Is it Donald Trump? Absolutely not."

Mulvaney said it's unfair to cast the individual responsible for killing 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand as a Trump supporter based on a reference to the president in the shooter's so-called manifesto. 

"This was a disturbed individual, an evil person. ... To try to tie him to an American politician of either party probably ignores some of the deeper difficulties that this sort of activity exposes," he said.

"Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace noted that the president has used rhetoric that has inflamed tensions, playing a 2016 clip in which then-candidate Trump said he believes "Islam hates us" as well as comments from last week in which Trump described the influx of illegal immigration as an "invasion."

Asked whether the president would consider delivering a speech condemning white nationalism, white supremacy and anti-Muslim bigotry, Mulvaney said Trump has defended religious and individual liberties.

"I’m not sure what more you want the president to do," he said, referencing Trump's tweets about the attack. "You may say you want to give him a national speech to address the nation. That’s fine. Maybe we do that. Maybe we don’t. But I think you get down to the basic issue is that the president is doing everything that we can to prevent this type of thing from happening here."

Authorities in New Zealand said Saturday that the death toll from the shootings at two mosques rose to 50 people. The 28-year-old Australian man charged in connection with the shooting killed 41 people at one mosque and seven at another. Two died after being hospitalized, police said.

Trump called the shooting "senseless" and "horrific" and offered support to New Zealand. Asked on Friday if he believes white nationalism is a growing threat, the president described it as a "small group of people that have very, very serious problems."

The president drew criticism in 2017 when he said there was blame on "both sides" after white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., clashed with counterprotesters.