Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the second-highest ranking Republican in the House, slammed Democrats for drawing a direct link between President Trump's rhetoric and the apparent anti-immigrant and anti-Latino motives of the white man suspected oflast week.
"To try to assign blame to somebody else is a very slippery slope because the president is no more responsible for that shooting as your next guest Bernie Sanders is for my shooting," Scalise said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.
The Louisiana Republican was referring to the massacre in an El Paso Walmart last Saturday and a shooting in 2017 in which a gunman — who authorities later surmised was fueled by "rage against Republican legislators" — critically wounded Scalise and others while they were practicing for a congressional baseball game.
After the gunman in El Paso, identified as a 21-year-old white man, stormed the crowded Walmart, Democrats denounced the president's hardline and inflammatory rhetoric on immigration, which they said fans the hatred behind violent acts like the mass shooting in the Texas border city.
In fiery rally speeches and official proclamations touting his hard-line immigration agenda, Mr. Trump has frequently used words like "invasion" to describe migrants crossing the border.
An anti-immigrant document purportedly authored by the suspected shooter in El Paso that federal investigators are probing denounces the growing political power of Texas' large Latino community and progressive positions on immigration. According tounsealed Friday, the accused gunman admitted he was targeting people of Mexican descent.
But Scalise on Sunday rebuffed any correlation, accusing Democrats of making "ridiculous" statements.
"I know they're running for president and they might not like Donald Trump's views but stop this ridiculous assessment of blame to somebody other than the person who's responsible," he said.
Pressed again about Mr. Trump's use of words like "invasion" when referring to migrants, Scalise demurred, noting that the president denounced racism and white supremacy during a White House address last week. He reiterated that all the blame lays with the shooters.
"Let's try to identify these shooters in a better way which right now we're working on doing let's put more emphasis there," Scalise said.