Mulvaney says Trump "doing what presidents are supposed to do" in wake of New Zealand attack

Mulvaney defends Trump response to New Zealand

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended President Trump against criticism he has not explicitly called out white supremacy in the wake of a deadly attack on two mosques in New Zealand. mass shooting. Mulvaney told "Face the Nation" Mr. Trump is "doing what presidents are supposed to do" in the wake of a tragedy. 

"I get a lot of questions from people saying, 'You need to tell the president to do X, you need to tell the president to go and give an Oval Office address on this or on that.' That's not how the system works," Mulvaney said Sunday. "The president communicates in his way, different presidents have communicated in their way. I don't think anybody can claim that Donald Trump hasn't done exactly what we'd want him to do in this circumstance."

Mulvaney added: "We've immediately reached out to our allies, we've expressed the absolute disgust at the tragic events. We're doing what presidents are supposed to do. That doesn't mean it's going to make everybody happy, because of the hyperpartisan times we live in."

Criticism of the president's lack of explicit condemnation echoed the reaction to his response to the deadly protests in Charlottesville in 2017, when the president failed to directly call out white nationalist demonstrators. He instead referred to "very fine people" on both sides.

Statistics from the Southern Poverty Law Center show support for white supremacy has risen in the past year, but Mulvaney denied any "causal link" between Mr. Trump and attacks like those in New Zealand. Mr. Trump said on Friday he did not see a rise in white nationalism around the world, saying it was "a small group of people" who perpetrated the attacks. 

"I want to push back against this idea that every time something bad happens everywhere around the world, folks who don't like Donald Trump seem to blame it on Donald Trump," Mulvaney said. He said linking the president to the tragedy is "absurd" and "doesn't help contribute to the dialogue that's necessary to fix these problems."

"Donald Trump is no more to blame for what happened in New Zealand than Mark Zuckerberg is because he invented Facebook," said Mulvaney. 

The suspected gunman in the deadly attack in New Zealand published a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto that referenced Mr. Trump by name. In one portion, the author responded to a self-directed question about whether he supports the president. He wrote: "As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no."

Mulvaney said "time is better spent" in the wake of the tragedy figuring out how to "stop these crazy people" and to "try to figure out a way find them, expose them and bring them to justice. "

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    Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital