Pres­i­dent seeks unity

Praises Capi­tol Po­lice who killed gun­man

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER

In first na­tional tragedy since tak­ing of­fice, Trump calls for co­op­er­a­tion.

Faced with the first tragedy of na­tional pro­por­tions since tak­ing of­fice, Pres­i­dent Trump com­manded the oc­ca­sion Wed­nes­day, de­liv­er­ing words of com­fort and a call for unity af­ter a gun­man opened fire on Repub­li­can law­mak­ers, wound­ing four peo­ple.

The pres­i­dent de­scribed the at­tack on Repub­li­cans pre­par­ing for the an­nual con­gres­sional base­ball game just miles from the Capi­tol as an as­sault on Amer­i­can democ­racy.

“We may have our dif­fer­ences, but we do well in times like these to re­mem­ber that ev­ery­one who serves in our na­tion’s cap­i­tal is here be­cause, above all, they love our coun­try,” Mr. Trump said in a speech de­liv­ered at the White House.

“We can all agree that we are blessed to be Amer­i­cans, that our chil­dren de­serve to grow up in a na­tion of safety and peace, and that we are strong­est when we are uni­fied, and when we work to­gether for the com­mon good,” he said.

The shoot­ing that wounded House Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise, a lob­by­ist, a GOP aide and two Capi­tol Po­lice of­fi­cers shocked the coun­try and tested Mr. Trump’s lead­er­ship. For the most part, he rose to meet the chal­lenge.

“Ev­ery­one on that field is a pub­lic ser­vant: our coura­geous po­lice, our con­gres­sional aides who work so tire­lessly be­hind the scenes with enor­mous devo­tion and our ded­i­cated mem­bers of Con­gress who rep­re­sent our peo­ple,” he said.

Mr. Trump avoided par­ti­san­ship in his re­marks de­spite ev­i­dence that the shooter, who was iden­ti­fied as James T. Hodgkin­son, ap­peared to be mo­ti­vated by ha­tred of Repub­li­cans.

He of­fered the coun­try’s prayers to Mr. Scalise and the other wounded, and he praised the brav­ery of the Capi­tol Hill po­lice of­fi­cers “who took down the gun­man de­spite sus­tain­ing gun­shot wounds dur­ing a very, very bru­tal as­sault.”

Amer­i­can pres­i­dents of­ten have been called upon to con­sole the coun­try dur­ing dif­fi­cult episodes, in­clud­ing Bill Clin­ton af­ter the Ok­la­homa City bomb­ing, Ge­orge W. Bush on 9/11 and Barack Obama af­ter the Fort Hood shoot­ing.

Af­ter the space shut­tle Chal­lenger ex­ploded, killing the seven as­tro­nauts on board, Ron­ald Rea­gan post­poned a State of the Union Ad­dress sched­uled that night and in­stead de­liv­ered a mes­sage broad­cast form the Oval Of­fice.

“I know it is hard to un­der­stand, but some­times painful things like this hap­pen. It’s all part of the process of ex­plo­ration and dis­cov­ery,” Rea­gan said. “It’s all part of tak­ing a chance and ex­pand­ing man’s hori­zons. The future doesn’t be­long to the faint­hearted; it be­longs to the brave.”

Un­like these other tragedies, how­ever, the shoot­ing Wed­nes­day did not re­sult in deaths other than the gun­man’s.

Still, Mr. Trump’s re­sponse fol­lowed the prece­dent for such oc­ca­sions. He can­celed his sched­uled events for the day, spoke to the coun­try to pro­vide an up­date and give com­fort and quietly co­or­di­nated with fed­eral agen­cies in­clud­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

In giv­ing an up­date, how­ever, Mr. Trump took on the un­usual role for a pres­i­dent of an­nounc­ing that the gun­man had died af­ter be­ing shot by Capi­tol Po­lice at the scene. He made the an­nounce­ment within min­utes of a brief­ing by law en­force­ment of­fi­cials who did not dis­close that the gun­man had been killed.

It was un­clear whether the pres­i­dent’s an­nounce­ment had been planned.

Mr. Trump said that he and first lady Me­la­nia Trump were grate­ful for the heroic ac­tions of the two Capi­tol Po­lice of­fi­cers, who were there as a se­cu­rity de­tail for Mr. Scalise.

He said that he and Mrs. Trump would keep all the vic­tims in their prayers.

The pres­i­dent also spoke hope­fully about Mr. Scalise’s re­cov­ery. At the time, Mr. Scalise was un­der­go­ing surgery for a gun­shot wound in the hip and was be­lieved to be in sta­ble con­di­tion. Later, af­ter surgery, he was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion at the hos­pi­tal.

“Con­gress­man Scalise is a friend and a very good friend. He’s a pa­triot and he’s a fighter. He will re­cover from this as­sault,” said Mr. Trump. “And Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the en­tire city be­hind you, but of an en­tire na­tion and, frankly, the en­tire world.

“Amer­ica is pray­ing for you, and Amer­ica is pray­ing for all of the vic­tims of this ter­ri­ble shoot­ing,” said the pres­i­dent.


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