Trump Accused of 'Both-sidesism' for Trying to Link Dayton Shooter to Liberal Politics

Trump's eldest son and Republican leaders joined in attempting to blame the left for incitement

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Panama City, Florida, U.S., May 8, 2019
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to link the suspected gunman in the Dayton mass shooting to liberal candidates and organizations.

At the same time, the president has pushed back against critics who tied the El Paso attack to his own comments on immigration. Posts from a Twitter account that appeared to belong to Connor Betts, the 24-year-old Dayton shooter, endorsed communism, bemoaned Trump’s election and supported Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president.

Trump made the comments shortly before departing for Dayton to meet with first responders and victims.

"I am concerned about the rise of any group of hate. I don't like it," Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. "Whether it's white supremacy, whether it's any other kind of supremacy. Whether it's antifa. Whether it's any group of hate."

"I am very concerned about it and I'll do something about it," he added. Trump's comments were dubbed "both-sidesism" by critics and compared to the controversial statement he made in 2017 after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when he said "I think there's blame on both sides ... You also had people that were very fine people on both sides." 

Trump's eldest son and Republican leaders joined in attempting to blame the left for incitement. 

"The Dayton killer was a left-winger, but don't blame Sen. Warren," Senator John Cornyn of Texas tweeted. On "Fox & Friends," Trump Jr. compared a list of Trump donors tweeted out by Congressman Joaquin Castro with a mass shooter's kill list, "That list sort of screams like the Dayton, Ohio, shooter's list, right? ... it's pretty scary."

White House officials stressed repeatedly that they have avoided blaming liberals for the Dayton shooting. But they noted again and again that the shooter was an apparent supporter.

Democrats rejected any connection.