Hours after a horrific mass murder occurred in New Zealand on Friday, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) wasted little time in placing blame on President Donald Trump — joining a CNN anchor in saying the president's rhetoric played a role in the killings.
What are the details?
During an interview on CNN's "New Day," host Alisyn Camerota began by asking the senator for his take on the tragedy and "a rise in right-wing extremist around the globe." After extending his condolences to the victims and their families, Blumenthal pointed to Trump's rhetoric as a prompt for the murders.
"Words do have consequences, and we know that at the very pinnacle of power in our own country, people are talking about good people on both sides," Blumenthal said, referring to the president's comments following a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
"You mean the president talking about it," Camerota pressed. "I mean I know it's hard to call this out. I've heard this from a guest this morning, they're having a hard time calling this out for some reason."
Blumenthal responded, "I think it's more than the president. It's the people who enable him and who fail to stand up to him and speak out."
"Words have consequences, like saying we have an 'invasion' on our border, and talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way," he continued. "I think the public discourse from the president on down is a factor in some of these actions."
Camerota suggested the link was a fact rather than speculation, saying, "I mean, we don't have to guess, actually, at this. We don't have to connect the dots ourselves. This is what the suspects say. This guy put out, according to authorities, put out this manifesto where he connects the dots between the rhetoric that he likes to hear and his violent action."
Politico reported that at least 49 people were killed at two mosques during the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, and dozens more injured. A man in his late 20s has been taken into custody and charged with murder, and three other people have been arrested in connection with the horrific crimes.
The main suspect in the killings published a 73-page manifesto ahead of the attacks, in which he said he was inspired by the Norway murderer who killed 77 people in 2011, according to the Daily Mail.
In the writings, he also referred to President Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose," and said "the person that has influenced me above all was [black conservative pundit] Candace Owens."
The suspect also referred to himself as an "Eco-Fascist by nature," and wrote that "the nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People's Republic of China."
According to Newsweek, "many observers pointed out that the manifesto contained what is known online as 's**t posting,' the practice of posting outrageous comments to elicit an emotional reaction in viewers and distract from the real meaning of the post." The outlet added, "The comments about Trump may have been just that."