Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, said Monday that “objective evidence” suggests that President Trump is sympathetic toward white nationalists and that his unwillingness to forcefully condemn those views is “dangerous to the government.”
The comments of Ellison, a Democrat who now serves as Minnesota’s attorney general, came in response to Trump’s contention last week that white nationalism is not a growing threat, despite the embrace of such views by the suspected gunman in the deadly mosque shootings in New Zealand.
“I think sometimes you simply have to yield to the objective evidence, and that is it points to [Trump] being sympathetic to that point of view,” Ellison said on CNN, before referencing a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
In the aftermath of a deadly clash between attendees and protesters, Trump said that there were “some very fine people” on both sides.
“I mean whether it’s Charlottesville or whatever it is, it all seems to point back to he has some sympathy for that position and is not willing to condemn it,” Ellison said of Trump. “I think that’s dangerous, not just to communities of color, Jews, gays, people like that. I think it’s dangerous to the government.” Ellison left Congress in January after representing his Minnesota district in the House for 12 years.
“One thing’s for sure, white supremacists, neo-Nazi groups, they look at governments as complicit, guilty, and target government for punishment,” Ellison continued.
In an interview over the weekend, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said it was “absurd” to draw a connection between Trump’s many statements about immigration and the accused shooter’s own words on the subject, spelled out in a lengthy manifesto that referred to immigrants as “invaders within our lands” and called Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
Mulvaney also said that Trump has established a record of defending religious minorities worldwide. “I don’t think anybody could say that the president is anti-Muslim,” he said.
During his CNN appearance, Ellison took issue with that statement, saying: “It’s kind of hard for me to agree with the chief of staff.”
Ellison pointed to Trump’s call as a presidential candidate for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, among other things.