Trump to visit Pittsburgh amid funerals, calls for him to stay away
U.S. President Donald Trump was due to visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday, as mourners prepared to hold the first funerals for victims of the synagogue massacre and Jewish leaders said he would not be welcome until he denounced white nationalism, Reuters reports.
Trump said he would visit hospitalized police officers and other people wounded in Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue that killed 11 worshipers in the deadliest ever attack on America’s Jewish community.
“I’m just going to pay my respects,” Trump told Fox News on Monday night. “I would have done it even sooner, but I didn’t want to disrupt anymore than they already had disruption. But I look forward to going to Pittsburgh.”
Robert Bowers, 46, is accused of storming into the synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill section yelling “All Jews must die” and opening fire on members of three congregations holding Sabbath prayer services there.
The bloodshed has heightened a national debate over Trump’s political rhetoric, which his critics say has contributed to a surge in right-wing extremism in the United States.
“Yes, words matter,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, said during a CNN interview on Monday.
The Trump administration has rejected the notion he has encouraged white nationalists and neo-Nazis who have embraced him. Trump said during the interview on Fox News that he did not have to clarify his nationalism.
“It means I love the country, it means I’m fighting for the country,” he said. “I’m proud of this country and I call that nationalism. I call it being a nationalist and I don’t see any other connotation than that.”