Michael Bloomberg says Trump's words encourage white supremacist violence

Michael Bloomberg on Trump's rhetoric

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that President Trump "encourages racism" and "encourages white supremacy" with his words.

"Words matter," Bloomberg said in an interview with "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan after she asked whether it was a mistake to tie the president's words to white supremacy. "The public reads, watches, listens to that, and that changes their behavior. People look to their leadership for guidance and to say that it doesn't have an effect is wrong."

"So what the president says is very important, and if he supports or says nice things about racism, it encourages racism. If he goes and says nice things about white supremacists, he encourages that kind of violence," Bloomberg said. 

Bloomberg said that Mr. Trump "cannot go and just shoot off his mouth and say anything."

"He's the president United States, and he's not elected to run the Republican Party or the Democratic Party ... he's elected to run America, the American government, and he's got to represent everybody whether he agrees with them or not," Bloomberg continued.

Several Democrats have criticized Mr. Trump's inflammatory rhetoric after 22 people were killed in El Paso, Texas, last Saturday. The suspected shooter is believed to have posted a racist manifesto online before the shooting that denounced the increasing Hispanic population in Texas. The incident is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism and a hate crime.

Democratic presidential candidates Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O'Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang have all referred to Mr. Trump as a white supremacist. Jay Inslee has referred to him as a "white nationalist."

In a rally in Florida in May, Mr. Trump made a joke about an incendiary remark from an audience member who suggested shooting migrants. After noting that U.S. Border Patrol agents do not use weapons against migrants crossing the border illegally, Mr. Trump asked, "But how do you stop these people?"

One attendee loudly responded, "Shoot them!" The crowd laughed.

Mr. Trump grinned, shook his head and said, "Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle!" His supporters roared in cheers. 

In a speech on Monday, Mr. Trump denounced white supremacy and racism.

"In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America," the president said at the White House.

  • grace-headshot.jpg
    Grace Segers

    Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.