Land Commissioner George P. Bush linked the shooting with “white terrorism,” while U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz called it a “heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy.”
Some of Texas’ Republican leaders are saying in explicit terms that the tragic massacre in El Paso was racially motivated — and in one instance, characterizing it as part of a rise in “white terrorism.”
Authorities are investigating a hate-filled manifesto that appeared online shortly before a gunman opened fire Saturday at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, killing 20 people and injuring at least two dozen more. The document warned of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” amid other racist and xenophobic rhetoric.
Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose mother is a Mexican immigrant, was the first statewide official to speak plainly about the apparent link. In a statement Saturday night, Bush said the country’s counterterrorism efforts “should include standing firm against white terrorism here in the US.”
“There now have been multiple attacks from self-declared white terrorists here in the US in the last several months,” Bush said. “This is a real and present threat that we must all denounce and defeat.”
On Sunday afternoon, another statewide official of Hispanic descent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, issued a statement that also dealt unambiguously with the gunman’s apparently racial motive.
“As the son of a Cuban immigrant, I am deeply horrified by the hateful anti-Hispanic bigotry expressed in the shooter’s so-called ‘manifesto,'” Cruz said, labeling the shooting a “heinous act of terrorism and white supremacy.”
By bluntly acknowledging race’s apparent role in the shooting, the statements by Cruz and Bush were different from initial comments by other statewide elected officials including the state’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, as well as Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Abbott emphasized mental health in the immediate aftermath of the shooting Saturday evening, while Patrick decried cultural factors — such as violent video games — in a Fox News interview Sunday morning. He did say the shooting was “obviously a hate crime, I think, in my view, against immigrants.”
The Cruz and Bush statements were notable from a party that has struggled to gain the support of minority groups in Texas, particularly the ascendant Latino community. Both Bush and Cruz have previously advocated for a Texas GOP that works harder to attract those voters, though they have also embraced a president, Donald Trump, whose actions and language have deeply alienated them.
Neither Bush nor Cruz mentioned the president in their statements. Texas Democrats were far more unflinching in drawing the connection following the shooting, with Beto O’Rourke, the presidential candidate and former El Paso congressman, saying Trump “had a lot to do with what happened in El Paso.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Texas Democratic Party issued a statement pressing state Republicans to do more to fight hate in their own ranks.
“The Texas Democratic Party calls on the Republican Party of Texas, its leadership, and its elected officials to eradicate white supremacist language from their discourse,” the party’s statement said. “We call on the Republican establishment to work with Texas Democrats and pass real solutions to end gun violence and defeat systemic racism in our society.”
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican who represents parts of El Paso County and has previously criticized Trump’s rhetoric, addressed the question of Trump’s role in the El Paso shooting during an interview Sunday morning on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“I think divisive rhetoric is not the way to go,” Hurd said, noting the president had condemned the El Paso attack. “He has an opportunity to be the uniter-in-chief and I hope that’s the way to go.”
As for Bush’s use of the term “white terrorism,” Hurd said the FBI is still probing the manifesto, but if it indeed belonged to the gunman, “this is white nationalism terrorism and this is something that we’re seeing.”
Disclosure: Walmart has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
‘Rather than leading — he lies’: MSNBC panel says Trump is a ‘danger to the country’ because he can’t be trusted
MSNBC commentators, former assistant US Attorney Maya Wiley and Rick Wilson, explained that President Donald Trump's most significant barrier is making it past his own lies to save America from the coronavirus.
"There's a case tonight being tested in Walton County, Florida. The heart of Trump country," said Wilson, referring to the panhandle county east of Pensacola. "That's not going to be something you can just walk away from if it turns out to be a real case. We're seeing these things popping up all over. The safe bet was always to say, 'This could be bad. We'll do everything we can to stop it.' But he can't stop himself from self-aggrandizing and lying about things. And it's actually -- setting aside my normal criticism of Trump -- this is a danger to the country that he is not a trustworthy person for the American people. Even people who like him now he BS's them all the time. Now, if he says it's not a problem and people are being hospitalized, it is a problem."
Trump ‘just wants this problem to go away’: President desperate to get coronavirus ‘off his plate’
President Donald Trump is desperate for the coronavirus problem to go away, and he doesn't exactly care how it happens.
According to New York Times reporter Annie Karni, sources are telling her that the biggest concern Trump has is more about the markets than the deaths of Americans from the virus.
"First, let's establish, this is a president who tried to change science with a Sharpie when it came to hurricane path prediction," said MSNBC host Brian Williams. "That picture lasts forever."
"Even his allies on Fox and his allies outside the White House were kind of channeling to that proverbial audience of one that this was a great opportunity to look presidential and to tell the facts," said Karni. The Donald Trump we saw out there in the briefing room was very casual, kind of left the facts to the other people that accompanied him out there. But he clearly publicly and privately just wants this problem to go away. He wants to downplay it. He thinks -- he has called people who are talking about fears about it alarmist. He doesn't want to be alarmist, and he's kind of holding on to any comment that makes it sound like this will naturally be a problem that is removed from his plate. That's what we saw publicly, and that's what he's been saying privately as well."
Seth Meyers: You know Trump isn’t the chief law enforcement officer because he couldn’t pass the physical
"Late Night" host Seth Meyers warned that the United States is sliding into authoritarianism under President Donald Trump.
Sounding the alarm Wednesday evening, Meyers cited reports that Trump was making lists of disloyal people, purging them from their jobs, hiring unqualified cronies in top posts, and claiming he has the right to interfere in criminal cases.
While speaking to the press last week, Trump even announced that he's allowed to be involved in all criminal cases because he's the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. It's actually a title used for the attorney general.