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Trump lowers White House flags for slain journalists after reportedly denying request

Annapolis shooting survivor describes scene

President Trump lowered the American flags at the White House Tuesday morning in honor of the four journalists and one staffer killed by a gunman at The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland last week.

The Baltimore Sun reported Monday that Mr. Trump denied the request made over the weekend by Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, who is a Democrat, to honor the slain journalists by setting the White House flags at half-mast. 

"Our Nation shares the sorrow of those affected by the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland," Mr. Trump said in the proclamation released Tuesday morning. "Americans across the country are united in calling upon God to be with the victims and to bring aid and comfort to their families and friends."

Tuesday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that as soon as Mr. Trump heard about the request from Buckley, he asked his staff to reach out and verify that the mayor made the request. She says that once its validity was determined, Mr. Trump asked that the flag be lowered "immediately." 

"I spoke with the mayor last night and again this morning to let him know the president's decision," Sanders said.

Mr. Trump has order the flag to be lowered at half-staff 16 times during his presidency, five of them in tribute to mass-shooting victims: the Santa Fe high school shooting, the Parkland high school shooting, the Sutherland Springs church shooting, the Las Vegas music festival shooting, and now the Capital Gazette shooting. 

Just after the shooting, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state flags to be set at half-staff from Friday until Monday's sunset. Buckley hoped the president would comply with his request to do the same at the White House, aiming to keep attention on the tragic shooting.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed, you know? … Is there a cutoff for tragedy?" Buckley told The Baltimore Sun. "This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It's just as important as any other tragedy."

When asked Tuesday morning if the president is committed to stop calling journalists the "enemy of the people," Sanders said that Mr. Trump has a "great deal of respect for the press," but also called on the media to be responsible with their reporting.