Congressman Steve Scalise Says Trump Isn't Responsible For El Paso Shooting, Just Like Bernie Sanders Wasn't For His

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise this weekend defended Donald Trump from critics that allege the president's inflammatory racial rhetoric is to blame for the El Paso shooting.

During an interview on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, host Margaret Brennan asked the congressman whether he is concerned about the derogatory language Trump uses to describe immigrants in the U.S.

"In the case of El Paso, it is the largest anti-Latina attack that this country has ever seen. The killer said that he went to a border town to kill Mexicans. Given this particular context, can you understand the sensitivity to language used by the president when he refers to migrants as 'invading this country'?" Brennan asked Scalise.

Scalise began his response by denouncing the shooter, before then defending Trump.

"My heart breaks when you see what happened," the congressman said. "There's no place for it, whether it's somebody that's racist, that hates a certain ethnic group. There's no place for those kind of attacks and attacking people based on their ethnicity."

"But to try to assign blame to somebody else I think is a very slippery slope, because the president's no more responsible for that shooting, as your next guest, Bernie Sanders, is for my shooting," Scalise said, adding that he "is not responsible. The shooter is responsible."

.@SteveScalise says it’s a “slippery slope” to blame @realDonaldTrump's rhetoric for the El Paso shooting: "The president's no more responsible for that shooting as your next guest, Bernie Sanders, is for my shooting.”

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 11, 2019

The Republican's remarks were in reference to a shooting that took place during a practise session in June, 2017 for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity in Alexandria, Virginia. James Hodgkinson, an extreme left-wing gunman, shot Scalise, lobbyist Matt Mika, congressional aide Zack Barth and U.S. Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner. The shooter was reportedly a former volunteer for Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign.

Hodgkinson was fatally wounded during a roughly ten-minute shootout with authorities and died at the George Washington University Hospital on the same day as the incident. Mika and Scalise were reportedly transported to nearby hospitals after the attack for treatment and surgery.

"The president was very clear just the other day that there's no place for this. He spoke out against racism, he spoke out against these kind of attacks," Scalise continued, before then condemning some 2020 Democratic candidates for blaming Trump for the El Paso shooting.

These presidential candidates "made some of the most ridiculous statements," the congressman said. "Joe Biden just said that he was vice president when the Parkland kids came and met with him. He wasn't vice president."

"I know they're running for president and they may not like Donald Trump's views but stop this ridiculous assessment of blame to somebody other than the person who is responsible," he added.

Trump responded to the El Paso and Dayton shootings last week by declaring that "hate has no place in our country," before vowing that his administration would "take care of it," without offering any concrete plans to address gun violence.

Democrats and Republicans have sparred over whether Trump's inflammatory rhetoric about immigrants had encouraged the hate and violence in the El Paso shooting. The president "is a racist and he stokes racism in this country," former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke said last weekend. "And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence."

Steve Scalise
GOP congressman Steve Scalise on Sunday defended Trump over allegations that his racial rhetoric is responsible for the El Paso shooting. CBS/Screenshot