WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday that he does not view white nationalism as a growing threat, hours after a gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing at least 49 people.
“I don’t really,” Trump told reporters from the Oval Office. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
Trump added that the deadly shooting was a “terrible thing.”
A 28-year-old man has been charged in connection with the attacks and two other suspects remain in custody, according to New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush.
The alleged shooter streamed the attack online. Shortly after the attacks a manifesto purportedly written by the suspect, identifying himself as Australian, began to circulate through social media.
The manifesto contains white supremacist vitriol against non-white immigrants as well as references to internet forums used by far-right hate groups.
It also contains a nod to Trump, whom the suspect described as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” but an ineffective leader.
When asked Friday if he had seen the manifesto, Trump said that he had not.
“I did not see it. I did not see it, but I think it’s a horrible event, it’s a horrible thing,” Trump said. “I saw it early in the morning when I looked at what was happening.”
Trump tweeted his condolences to the victims of the attacks on Friday morning. The tweet was preceded by a statement by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders that condemned the attacks.