President Donald Trump is stirring up racism for “political benefit” and bears the responsibility to “say loudly and consistently that white supremacy is illegitimate,” former FBI Director James Comey said Sunday in an opinion piece for The New York Times.
Comey’s comments follow reports that federal prosecutors are treating the shooting in El Paso, Texas, as a domestic terrorism case.
The gunman, a 21-year-old white man, reportedly wrote a manifesto railing against immigration and announcing that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.
“America has long had a radioactive racist soup in the center of our national life,” Comey wrote. “Donald Trump thinks he is stirring it for political benefit. He’s actually doing something more dangerous.”
Several Democratic presidential candidates pointed the finger at Trump, arguing that he had encouraged extremism with his hateful language.
Comey alleged the shooter was inspired by Trump’s rhetoric.
“According to a ‘manifesto’ widely attributed to him, the Texas terrorist who killed at least 20 people in El Paso on Saturday wasn’t directly motivated by Donald Trump. But he is a horrific example of what can happen when the control rods are lifted,” Comey said.
“Every American president, knowing what lies deep within our country, bears a unique responsibility to say loudly and consistently that white supremacy is illegitimate, that encouraging a politics of racial resentment can spawn violence, and that violence aimed at people by virtue of their skin color is terrorism,” he continued.