Co-host of CNN’s “New Day” John Berman tried to tie President Donald Trump to the New Zealand mosque shooting on Friday during an interview with GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Berman initially asked for Kinzinger’s reaction to the shooting that claimed at least 49 lives, but then pivoted to Trump and asked if the president’s rhetoric helped cause the massacre.
“This is a time where we need the God of the universe to step in and to change people’s hearts,” Kinzinger said. “Because for somebody to wake up, decide to grab a bunch of guns, decide to murder innocent people, — even if they’re a different religion — to me is just the pure epitome of disgusting evil.”
“You asked for God to change people’s hearts,” Berman replied. “I have a question for you. Does God need to change people’s language? And I ask you that because this killer — apparently in a screed, some people call it a manifesto — said he is a supporter of President Trump as a symbol of white identity. Why would anyone see the president as a symbol of white identity?”
“I think God needs to change people’s hearts, and I beg he does. He needs to change their language. But you cannot put this on President Trump,” Kinzinger responded.
“The person who is giving a sign of allegiance to President Trump is the killer here. He calls him a symbol of white identity. The language he uses in this manifesto is all about invaders. It’s all about invaders, which is similar language to the killer at the synagogue in Pittsburgh,” Berman replied. “It’s also language that President Trump used in a campaign ad before the midterm election. The word ‘invader’ means something to white supremacists around the world. Why?”
Kinzinger continued to defend the president and said you can’t blame Trump for someone else’s decision to murder innocent people.
“I don’t have any idea, frankly, what was in mind. But what I know is this: It cannot be connected. We cannot sit here and say, ‘What is it that President Trump is doing that’s somehow triggering these people?’ This is an evil man that made a decision to murder 49 people. And that is on him. And frankly, the evil in his heart,” he said.
Berman then implied Trump’s use of the word “invader” has only made matters worse.
“If this monster is hearing something in the word ‘invader’ and the president is using the word ‘invader,’ can the president really not do anything?” Berman asked. “You’ve just been at the border. And I know and I’ve heard you talk about that. I haven’t ever heard you use the word ‘invader.’”
Kinzinger continued to tell Berman he would not try to link random acts of violence back to the White House or the president.
“I think the president shouldn’t use terms like invasion and hordes. But I also think though that — that doesn’t mean he can’t be passionate about the fact that he wants to stop illegal immigration,” he said.
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