Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted President Trump for fostering "divisiveness" with his rhetoric, but stressed he does not believe the president wants to see people be killed in mass shootings like the recent ones in Dayton, Ohio.and
"President Trump and nobody else wants to see people mowed down and killed, and I've never said that. He does not want to see that," Sanders said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.
Nevertheless, the Vermont independent suggested — like many Democrats have — that Mr. Trump's fiery rhetoric emboldens people prone to carrying out violent acts because of racial animus.
"I think he creates a climate where we are seeing a significant increase in hate crimes in this country, hate crimes against Muslims, against Mexicans, against Jews," Sanders added. "He is creating the kind of divisiveness in this nation that is the last thing that we should be doing. So he creates the climate."
The deadly rampage inside a Walmart in El Paso last Saturday is being treated as an act of domestic terrorism by the Justice Department and a potential hate crime by federal investigators, who are probing a racist, anti-immigrant document purportedly authored by the suspect, a 21-year-old white man. The alleged manifesto decries the growing political power of Texas' large Latino community and denounces progressive positions on immigration.
Sanders also urged his fellow lawmakers in Congress to rebuff the nation's powerful gun lobby and pass legislation designed to curb gun violence, which has again drawn national attention.
"The American people want to expand background checks," he said Sunday. "They want to do away with the gun show loophole. They want to do away with the straw man provision. And more and more people agree with something that I have been saying for 30 years, is that assault weapons are weapons of war, they are military style weapons designed to kill people."
But Sanders again returned to the importance of combating racism and white supremacy, which he said is a pressing issue that should alarm all Americans.
"I want to make sure that we do not see the rise of neo-fascism in this country and that we understand that those white nationalists are in fact, when you get involved in violence, they are terrorists and they should be treated as terrorists," he said.