Rep. Mark Sanford, a Republican from South Carolina, said Thursday morning that President Donald Trump is “partially to blame” for the rhetoric that led to Wednesday’s shooting during the GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
“I would argue that the president is at least in partially — not in any way totally — but partially to blame for demons that have been unleashed,” Sanford said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “[N]ot with what happened yesterday, but the fact that you’ve got the top guy saying, ‘Well, I wish I could hit you in the face. And if not, why don’t you and I’ll pay your legal fees.’ That’s bizarre — we ought to call it as such.”
Sanford described the atmosphere in Washington, D.C., as “surreal” and indicated that Congress needs to do some soul-searching moving forward.
“We’re at an inflection point,” Sanford said. “[I] think we have to watch out as a society because, if we don’t watch out, civility is indeed a part of civilized government and an open political system.
“If you let these forces play out, I think we end up at a very, very bad spot,” he continued. “I think what happened yesterday was symptomatic of it.”
The South Carolina lawmaker called politicians on both sides of the aisle to come together and tamp down on the harsh rhetoric they so often hurl at one another.
Shortly after the shooting Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) addressed Congress, saying, “We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. And an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
And House Democrats, who were participating in a baseball practice at another location, stopped to pray for their Republican colleagues shortly after learning about the assault.
.@HouseDemocrats praying for our @HouseGOP @SenateGOP baseball colleagues after hearing about the horrific shooting… https://t.co/CxE2Vx6Rsz— Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen (@Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen)1497442144.0
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot in the hip Wednesday, remains in critical condition, according to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he is being treated. He has received “multiple units of blood transfusion” and “will require additional operations.”
NEW: Hospital treating @SteveScalise says he "has received multiple units of blood transfusion" and "will require a… https://t.co/2AjRHFYB9V— Tré Goins-Phillips ☀️ (@Tré Goins-Phillips ☀️)1497490564.0
Others injured in the shooting include two Capitol Police agents, Crystal Griner and David Bailey, as well as Zack Barth, a congressional staffer for Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams, and Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods who often joins lawmakers during baseball practices.