Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) used the occasion of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this weekend to spread fake news Sunday about President Donald Trump’s policies and blame him for the violence.
O’Rourke, speaking to Jake Tapper of CNN on State of the Union while standing in El Paso, compared the president’s rhetoric to the Third Reich of Nazi Germany, and blamed Fox News and “the Internet” for the shooting. He also said the following:
These are white men, motivated by the kind of fear this president traffics in. The mosque in Victoria, Texas, was burned to the ground on the same day that President Trump signed his order [sic] attempting to ban Muslim travel to the United States of America [sic], when he says after Charlottesville that Klansman and white supremacists and neo-Nazis are “very fine people” [sic], the commander-in-chief is sending a very public signal to the rest of this country about what is permissible, and in fact even what he encourages to happen. So let’s connect the dots here on what is happening and why it is happening and who is responsible for this right now. … You don’t get mass shootings like these [sic], you don’t torch mosques, you don’t put kids in cages [sic] until you have a president who has given people permission to do that and that is exactly what is happening in the United States of America today.
Almost everything O’Rourke said was false:
- President Trump signed his executive order banning travel from seven terror-prone countries on Jan. 27, 2017; the mosque was burned on Jan. 28, 2017, not the same day. (The Trump administration prosecuted the arsonist.)
- The president’s executive order did not ban Muslims from traveling to the U.S. It focused on terror-prone countries that had been identified by the Obama administration, pursuant to congressional statute. Other Muslim countries were not affected, and the order said nothing about religion. The last version of the “travel ban” executive order — which was upheld by the Supreme Court — included non-Muslim countries such as North Korea and Venezuela.
- President Trump never said “Klansman and white supremacists and neo-Nazis” were “very fine people.” As Breitbart News and others have repeatedly noted, Trump was describing non-violent protesters for and against the removal of a Confederate statue as “very fine people,” and added specifically: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.” (Even Tapper himself has acknowledged that fact.)
- Numerous mass shootings occurred during the Obama administration (and before), including the murder of five police officers in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter march. Few blamed Obama for inciting that attack.
- There is no policy of “kids in cages,” but the use of chain-link fences to separate children from adults at Border Patrol processing facilities — for their safety — began under President Barack Obama, not President Trump.
Tapper did not correct his guest’s numerous misstatements. Instead, in a segment he later tweeted, Tapper asked O’Rourke if he thought Trump was a “white nationalist.” O’Rourke, of course, said “yes.”
Update: Later, when South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made the same “very fine people” claim, Tapper likewise failed to correct him.