President Donald Trump, along with first lady Melania Trump, will travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday to show their support for the Jewish community after a horrific mass shooting at a synagogue that occurred over the weekend that resulted in 11 individuals being killed.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Monday that Trump and the first lady would depart the White House on Tuesday “to express the support of the American people and grieve with the Pittsburgh community,” according to a tweet from ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers.
While it’s customary for a president to travel to areas of the country hit by tragedy, a visit by Trump may not be welcomed by all who live in the community. Eleven Jewish community leaders announced to Trump that they would not condone his visit to the city until he denounced the evils of white nationalism, according to reporting from the Independent.
“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” the statement from the Pittsburgh branch of Bend the Arc said. The group went on to denounce what they felt was Trump’s own impact on the shooter’s actions.
“You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence,” the group added.
— CNN (@CNN) October 29, 2018
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was leading services at the Tree of Life synagogue when the shootings occurred, suggested he held differing views about the president’s plans.
“I’m a citizen. He’s my president. He is certainly welcome,” Myers said, according to CNN. To showcase just how divided the community is on the matter, however, a former president of the synagogue disagreed with welcoming Trump.
While some have blamed Trump’s rhetoric on creating a hostile political environment in the country, possibly leading to far-right extremists to consider taking violent actions into their own hands, the president over the weekend tweeted out his own beliefs on where he put the blame on. For Trump, it was the media that was stoking tensions across the country.
The media, which Trump called “fake news,” is “doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country,” Trump wrote on Sunday. “Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!”
When pressed by reporters on Monday to explain why Trump was blaming the media, Sanders denied that was what Trump was saying.
“No, the president is not placing blame” on the media, the press secretary said, according to Washington Post White House reporter Josh Dawsey, who tweeted out the quote from Sanders on Monday.