THE LATEST ON THE PITTSBURGH MASSACRE: Trump Orders Flags Be Flown At Half-Staff; Calls Attack “Evil Anti-Semitism”

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President Donald Trump has ordered flags at federal buildings throughout the United States to be flown at half-staff in “solemn respect” for the shooting victims at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Trump issued the proclamation late Saturday, shortly after returning to Washington from speaking at the Future Farmers of America convention in Indianapolis and a campaign rally in Murphysboro, Illinois.

Throughout the day, he expressed sorrow, called for justice and bemoaned hate, getting regular updates on the shooting. But he also campaigned for candidates and took shots at favorite Democratic targets. Trump said cancelling his appearance would make “sick, demented people important.”

[WATCH: Trump: If Pittsburgh Synagogue Had An Armed Guard “They Would Have Been Able To Stop” The Shooter]

In the proclamation, Trump called for the flags to be lowered until Oct. 31. Earlier in the day he told reporters he would travel to Pittsburgh, but offered no details.

The man suspected of killing 11 people at the synagogue in Pittsburgh has been charged with obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death.

[Jewish Organizations & Officials Issue Statements About Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting]

[WATCH: Chabad Shliach To Pittsburgh Speaks Outside Of Scene Of Shabbos Morning Massacre]

 

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Federal prosecutors say Robert Bowers was charged Saturday night in a 29-count criminal complaint. It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney

The charges also include 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder, weapons offenses and charges alleging Bowers seriously injured police officers while obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs.

Authorities said six people, including four police officers, were also wounded during Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

The charging documents were not immediately available in a federal court records database. Prosecutors have scheduled a Sunday morning news conference to discuss the case.

President Trump mourned the dead and forcefully condemned anti-Semitism Saturday after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead. But faced with another national tragedy, he did not long turn his focus away from the midterm elections or himself.

Nine days from elections that will determine the control of Congress, Trump stuck to his plans to appear at an agricultural convention and a political rally. Throughout the day, he expressed sorrow, called for justice and bemoaned hate, getting regular updates on the shooting. But he also campaigned for candidates, took shots at favorite Democratic targets House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Elizabeth Warren and made jokes about his hair.

At a massive rally in southern Illinois for U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, Trump condemned the shooting as an “evil anti-Semitic attack.” But he said cancelling his appearance would make “sick, demented people important.” He pledged to change his tone for the evening and did cool some of his most fiery rhetoric.

The slaughter at Sabbath services followed a tense week dominated by a mail bomb plot with apparent political motivations and served as another toxic reminder of a divided nation. It also again underscored Trump’s reluctance to step into the role of national unifier at tense moments as well as his singular focus heading into elections that could dramatically change his presidency.

Trump acknowledged the weight these moments carry, telling reporters that experiencing such events as president, “it’s a level of terribleness and horror that you can’t even believe. It’s hard to believe.”

The White House said Trump was getting regular briefings on the attack. He spoke with the governor of Pennsylvania and the mayor of Pittsburgh. He also spoke with his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who are Jewish.

Shortly after returning to Washington late Saturday, Trump ordered flags at federal buildings throughout the country to be flown at half-staff until Oct. 31 in “solemn respect” for the victims.

Trump sought to energize turnout for Bost, who is fighting to hold on to a seat that was once a Democratic stronghold, but turned out for Trump in 2016. To bolster his argument for sticking with the rally, Trump argued that the New York Stock Exchange was opened the day after 9/11, though in fact it was re-opened on September 17.

Speaking to a massive, cheering crowd at an airport hangar in southern Illinois, Trump said “the hearts of all Americans are filled with grief, following the monstrous killing.” He told reporters before the rally that he would travel to Pittsburgh, though he did not offer details. He also sought to distance himself from the man arrested in the shooting, calling him “sick” and saying “he was no supporter of mine.”

Although his tone was softer, he still targeted Pelosi and Democrats and the crowd gleefully shouted “lock her up,” in reference to Hillary Clinton, one of the targets of the bomb plot. And he continued to emphasize his hardline immigration rhetoric. “Republicans want strong borders, no crime, and no caravans,” Trump said.

Trump’s speech to a convention of the Future Farmers of America had all the hallmarks of a Trump rally, as the president riffed on trade, jobs and some of his political enemies. At one point he also joked about his hair. He said it was ruffled by the rain as he left Washington, adding “I said, ‘maybe I should cancel this arrangement because I have a bad hair day.”

Trump offered an unsparing denunciation of anti-Semitism, which he said was the motive behind the attack, in contrast to remarks after clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville last year. Then, he only inflamed tensions by blaming both sides for the violence.

Speaking to young farmers in Indianapolis, Trump called on the country to come together, before inviting a pastor and rabbi on stage to pray.

Earlier in the day, Trump speculated that the death toll in Pittsburgh would have been curbed if an armed guard had been in the building. With both the number of deaths and details of the synagogue’s security still to be disclosed, Trump said gun control “has little to do with it” but “if they had protection inside, the results would have been far better.”

But the attack did not persuade him that tighter gun controls are needed.

“This is a case where, if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately,” Trump said. “Maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him, frankly. So it’s a very, very – a very difficult situation.”

In previous mass shootings, Trump has at times said he would consider tightening gun laws but in the main has called for more armed guards in places such as schools.

“The world is a violent world,” he said before his speech. “And you think when you’re over it, it just sort of goes away, but then it comes back in the form of a madman, a wacko. … They had a maniac walk in and they didn’t have any protection and that is just so sad to see, so sad to see.”

Trump said lawmakers “should very much bring the death penalty into vogue” and people who kill in places such as synagogues and churches “really should suffer the ultimate price.”

(AP)




15 COMMENTS

  1. Isn’t this the guy who said that at Charlottesville there were “fine people on both sides” – fine people carrying torches and swastika flags chanting, “The Jews will not replace us?” He can give all the orders about flags that he wants, but the reality is that he’s fostering an atmosphere in which bigotry and hate are now the “new normal,” and when that happens, we inevitably become victims too.

  2. no, mr, midwest. the massacre would have happened regardless of “rhetoric”. we became victims בעונותנו הרבים, enough of hearing all this talk of “we have to stop anti semitism”, trump could say what ever he wants, but if we dont fix ourselves its just going to get worse.

  3. How is quoting what a person says on national tv “fake news”. THe words in quotation are true. In Charlottsville , they marched by a a Jewish house of worship yelling “Jews will not replace us”. In PIttsburgh it was 11 murders in a Jewish House of worship. Was the anti-semite one of the “fine” people and what does it take to make any of them not good people? It is so intresting to see the trumpsters call anything showing any harming or false statements by the administration as “fake news.” The truth is the truth and “fake news” is not fake news.

  4. ruvain, you are another moron on this forum who is accusing Trump of being neo-Nazi. Trump was referring to the group of people who came to Charlottsville to protect historical monuments that are being taken down by antifa, not the ones who “marched by a Jewish house of worship yelling “Jews will not replace us”. How come you are not disturbed by Obama inviting jew-hating racists terrorist group Black Lives Matter to the White house?.

  5. Ruvain, the President was intentionally taken out of context by the MSM in the Charlottesville case. The rally was initially not a white supremacist rally but a conservative patriot rally which Antifa type folks framed as white supremacists ahead of the event. All the hype before the event ended up drawing white supremacists who, along with the Antifa folks instigated violence which culminated in the vehicular attack. The majority of the people there were regular conservative and liberal people who came to represent their values and protest the extremists on the opposite side. Those are the folks he called “fine people”. Not the Antifa or the white supremacists who made the event spin out of control.

  6. Actual quote from their “rabbi”: “I shouldn’t have to include in my daily morning prayers that God should watch over my wife and daughter, both teachers, and keep them safe. Where are our leaders?”

  7. Defending Trump is no different than defending Hitler. Hater/Trump whips up the hatred and then the Jews suffer…wake up or history will repeat itself

  8. The hate from this murderer is an old old hate in this country that was evident during world war 2, namely the hatred of immigrants. It is an image problem either real or imagined. White, non-Jewish Americans are fearful of losing control of the country and of being the minority. They still see themselves as “masters” and others as minorities, being inferior to them. They see immigrants as wanting to destroy the fabric of America, economically, socially, and politically. The hatred of immigrants by the president has only added fuel to the fire.

  9. We are told in the Torah that bribery blinds. While this is a democratic country, it is also a country of lobbying groups that use their money and favors for politicians to gain favor in their eyes. One of the biggest lobbying groups is the NRA. Democrat and republican presidents alike did nnothing to curtail assault rifles and gun violence.