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Trump: 'I Don't Really' See Rise in White Nationalism

March 15, 2019 - 1:53 pm
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(KNX 1070) -- When asked by reporters Friday if he thought there was a rise in white nationalism growing globally, the president said he doesn't think so. 

“I don’t really,” Trump responded. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess. If you look what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. … But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”

Trump was questioned by reporters on the massacre in New Zealand at two mosques Friday where 49 people were shot and killed. He said he had not seen the manifesto reportedly written by the shooter, who in all reports appears to be a devout white nationalist determined to murder Muslim immigrants. 

The president gave a press conference after vetoing Congress' attempt to end funding for his national emergency over the border wall. 

Flanked by law enforcement officials as well as the parents of children killed by people in the country illegally, Trump maintained that he is not through fighting for his signature campaign promise, which stands largely unfulfilled 18 months before voters decide whether to grant him another term.

"Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution," Trump said, "and I have the duty to veto it."

Despite the embarrassing defections, Trump's grip on the party remains strong and the White House made it clear that Republicans resisting Trump could face political consequences. Ahead of the voting, Trump framed the issue as with-him-or-against-him on border security, a powerful argument with many.

But Friday, Trump said he had sympathy for Republicans who voted against him and emphasized that he never truly twisted the arms of lawmakers, because he knew there were not enough votes to override the veto.

"Look, they were doing what they have to do," Trump said, insisting he "put no pressure" on lawmakers to vote against the resolution.

Still, a White House official said Trump won't forget when senators who opposed him want him to attend fundraisers or provide other help. The official was not authorized to speak publicly on internal deliberations so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump painted his usual portrait of a lawless and violent border. He cited "thousands and thousands" of gang arrests and claimed many of the asylum seekers released into the U.S. were "stone-cold killers," ignoring data that shows immigrants are less likely to commit crime. He noted, correctly, a spike in the number of people coming to the border to claim asylum.

Trump initiated the showdown months ago when he all but dared Congress not to give him the $5.7 billion he was demanding to build the U.S.-Mexico wall, by threatening a federal government shutdown.

Congress declined and the result was the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Against the advice of GOP leaders, Trump invoked the national emergency declaration last month, allowing him to try to tap about $3.6 billion for the wall by shuffling money from military projects, and that drew outrage from many lawmakers. Trump had campaigned for president promising Mexico would pay for the wall.

Associated Press contributed to this story.