Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) pushed back on a line of questioning from CNN’s John Berman Friday that attempted to link the tragic Mosque shootings in New Zealand, which left 49 dead, to President Trump’s rhetoric.
“You asked for God to change peoples' hearts,” Berman noted, “Does God need to change peoples' language? And I ask you that, because this killer apparently in a screed, some people call it a manifesto, said he’s a supporter of President Trump as a symbol of white identity. Why would anyone see the president as a symbol of white identity?”
“I think God needs to change people’s hearts, and I beg he does, he needs to change their language,” Kinzinger replied, “but you cannot put this on President Trump.”
Berman claimed he wasn’t blaming Trump, saying “there is one man who pulled the trigger here." But then he went on to say, "okay, the person who is giving a sign of allegiance to President Trump is the killer here. He called him a symbol of white identity. The language he uses in this manifesto is all about invaders.”
He added that such language “is similar to the killer at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, it's also language that President Trump used in a campaign ad before the midterm election,” noting, “the word invader means something to people around the world. Why?”
Kinzinger again pushed back on the attempt to link the president’s rhetoric to the shooting.
“To make the connection of a president to say I’m concerned with illegal immigration — to say that and go to a guy that's willing to kill 50 people he may say, President Trump is my idol,” he said, “that doesn’t put it on President Trump. I don’t know what a sick man that would kill 49 people innocently was thinking. I don’t have any idea what was in his mind. I know this. It cannot be connected.”
“We cannot say, 'what is it President Trump is doing that is somehow triggering these people?'” he emphasized. “This is an evil man that made a decision to murder 49 people. And that is on him. Frankly, the evil in his heart.”
Kinzinger later said that he does occasionally object to certain words that the president uses but he kept insisting to Berman that making a connection between President Trump and the killer was not appropriate.
“It’s one thing to say ‘change your language’ or ‘use it differently' but the connection cannot be made,” he said, “I firmly believe you cannot make a connection.”
Berman said it was the killer who made the connection in his writing.
“He’s also a disgusting animal who killed 49 people,” Kinzinger replied.
In reply to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) controversial critique of offering “thoughts and prayers” for those affected by the tragedy, Kinzinger told Fox & Friends earlier that “thoughts and prayers are impactful.”
“When I saw that it just doubled down my determination to tell people to do it,” he said. “Prayer means something and faith means something and I think even though we may all have different faiths, let’s all stand together in this moment.”