President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested a left-wing political motivation behind the massacre in Dayton, Ohio, despite police statements that say there’s a lack of a clear motive.
Trump, whose anti-immigrant language has been scrutinized in the wake of the El Paso, Texas, shooting over the weekend that appears motivated by a hatred of Hispanics, made the insinuation hours before he traveled to both sites. He made similar comments to his tweets on the White House lawn as he departed Wednesday morning.
Earlier this week, he called on the nation to close divisions in order to stop gun violence and condemned racism and white supremacy, though he did not acknowledge his own divisive and racist rhetoric.
“‘Meanwhile, the Dayton, Ohio, shooter had a history of supporting political figures like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and ANTIFA.’ @OANN I hope other news outlets will report this as opposed to Fake News. Thank you!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
A Twitter account that appeared to belong to Dayton shooter Connor Betts retweeted messages supporting Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as extreme left-wing and anti-police posts, as well as tweets supporting Antifa, or anti-fascist, protesters.
Authorities, however, have said there is no clear motive behind the attack, and writings by Betts did not indicate any racial or political motive, sources have told CNN. Instead, investigators have pointed to an apparent fixation of Betts on violence and killing.
In contrast, investigators say Patrick Crusius, the El Paso suspect, left behind a manifesto filled with white supremacist language and racist hatred aimed at immigrants and Latinos. The author says he opposes “race mixing” and encourages immigrants to return to their home countries.
Some of the language of the manifesto reflects ideas from Trump, Fox News and the modern Republican Party. For example, the document warns of a “Hispanic invasion” and says Democrats are using “open borders” and “free health care for illegals” to attract new voters.
The writer cites a fear that an influential Hispanic population in Texas would make the state a “Democratic stronghold.” But he says “the Republican Party is also terrible” because the GOP is, in his mind, pro-corporation, which could lead to more immigration.
The author says he’s held these beliefs for years, before Trump became President.
Trump on Monday denounced the El Paso shooter’s manifesto. But he has forcefully denied claims his rhetoric played a role in the massacre or, more generally, enabled white supremacists nationwide.
And rather than attempt to heal political divides in the wake of the weekend’s shootings, Trump has spent the past two days launching partisan attacks and responding to critics. On Tuesday night, he mocked former Rep. Beto O’Rourke – who has blamed Trump’s rhetoric as a motivator behind the El Paso shooting and called on him to not visit the city – for going by “Beto” rather than “Robert,” calling it a “phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage.”
He’s also blamed the media for stirring up divisions and at one point suggested tying action on gun violence to immigration legislation, his top domestic priority.