Chicago Sun-Times



NEW YORK — President Donald Trump played down any threat posed by racist white nationalis­m on Friday after the gunman accused of the New Zealand mosque massacre called the president “a symbol of renewed white identity.”

Trump, whose own previous responses to the movement have drawn scrutiny, expressed sympathy for the victims who died at “places of worship turned into scenes of evil killing.” But he declined to join expression­s of mounting concern about white nationalis­m, saying “I don’t, really” when asked whether he thought it was a rising threat around the world.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” Trump said. “If you look at 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.”

The man accused of the shootings, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, allegedly left behind a lengthy document that outlined his motivation­s. He proudly stated that he was a 28-year-old Australian white nationalis­t who hates immigrants and was set off by attacks in Europe that were perpetrate­d by Muslims. In a single reference, he mentioned the president.

“Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?” was one of the questions he posed to himself. His answer: “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”

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