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Buried Lede: A Senior White House Official Quoted Racist Shooting Suspect’s Defense of Trump to Defend Trump

One overlooked facet of this weekend’s horrific gun violence is the fact that a senior White House official defended President Donald Trump from responsibility for the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas by citing the alleged shooter’s stated reason that Trump should not be blamed.

Prior to Saturday’s mass shooting at the Walmart in El Paso that killed 22 people and injured dozens more, the shooting suspect posted a manifesto online that many have observed echoes Trump’s rhetoric.

Many others, including former Texas Congressman and current Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, have subsequently assigned a measure of blame to Trump for the tragedy.

On Sunday morning’s edition of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confronted that criticism in a remarkable way, citing the alleged killer’s own rationale for why Trump should not be blamed to argue against blaming Trump.

Citing O’Rourke’s remarks, guest host Jon Karl asked Mulvaney “What do you say to Americans who look at what happened in El Paso and say that the president’s rhetoric is in part to blame? What do you say to those Americans? You know there are many.”

Mulvaney replied that “I hate to draw attention to the manifesto, but if you actually go and look at it, what the guy says is that he’s felt this way a long time before Donald Trump got elected president.”

Mulvaney is referring to a portion of the manifesto in which the suspect anticipated that Trump would be blamed, and argued against Trump’s influence while using Trump’s “fake news” catchphrase:

My ideology has not changed for several years. My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist anyway and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that.

It’s difficult to imagine what the reaction would have been had, say, President Barack Obama‘s chief of staff had told an interviewer not to blame Obama for a terror attack because the terror suspect said “people will blame Obama, but don’t, because I hated America before Obama was elected,” but it probably would have attracted some notice.

Watch the clip above, via ABC.

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