Trump Silent on White Supremacists in Breitbart Interview
|thenorthstar||Mar 19, 2019|
President Donald Trump recently sat down with far-right news website Breitbart to complain about former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s decision to “block issuance of subpoenas” of people from the left who Trump thought should have been investigated. But this was not the most controversial remark he made throughout the interview.
Trump sparked outrage after he seemingly made a threat of violence against his opponents from the left — touting that the police, military, and Bikers for Trump could “play it tough” should they reach “a certain point.”
“I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump,” he told Breitbart. “I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
Trump’s reference to a bike gang mirrors comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A group called The Night Wolves or Putin’s Angels has trekked across the European Union — especially in Serbia, Ukraine, and Slovakia — to sponsor pro-Kremlin policies. According to German newspaper Bild, the bikers receive financial support from Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
Trump later added in Breitbart, “But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress.... They do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.” The comments sparked fury among several Democratic legislators. “I think it sounds very much to me like he’s encouraging them to engage in something that’s probably illegal such as assaulting people, you know behave in a dangerous way,” Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told MSNBC.
Trump later tweeted Breitbart’s web address but it was later taken down following early reports of a shooting that killed 49 Muslims and severely injured 20 in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. However, Breitbart pointed out that the president had deleted the tweet simply because it did not link to the actual interview. The suspect of the carnage wrote a lengthy, rambling manifesto, praising Trump as the “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
Trump condemned the attack on Twitter. “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”
But critics were quick to point out Trump’s anti-Muslim policies, which began quickly after he assumed power, and have stoked hostility. A report from the Huffington Post in April revealed that pro-Trump extremists from Kansas had a plot to bomb an apartment complex where Somalis lived and worshiped.
On Friday, March 15, Trump proved once again to be incapable of decrying the danger of white nationalism. When asked about its imminent threat worldwide, Trump told ABC News’ Terry Moran, “I don’t, really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.” Trump’s remarks are reminiscent of his inability to reject violence stemming from white supremacy, following the Charlottesville, Virginia attacks that left one person dead and dozens injured in August of 2017.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time,” the president said at the time. His views regarding the tragic aftermath that left one person killed and dozens injured were deemed “incredibly unpresidential.” When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked if she agreed with Trump’s view that white nationalism was not a rising global threat, she said “no.”
About the Author
Robert Valencia is the breaking news editor for The North Star. His work as editor and reporter appeared on Newsweek, World Politics Review, Mic.com, Public Radio International and The Miami Herald, among other outlets. He’s a frequent commentator on foreign affairs and U.S. politics on Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, Voice of America, C-SPAN, Sirius XM and other media outlets across Latin America and the Caribbean.