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Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended President Trump on ABC's "This Week" against allegations that some of his past comments have downplayed the rising threat of white nationalism in the U.S., and that his divisive rhetoric is helping fuel violent domestic attacks like the shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday.

JON KARL: "Back in March he was asked directly, do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the world? His answer: 'I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have a very serious problem.' He downplayed the threat of white nationalism. Was he wrong to do that?"
MULVANEY: "No, I don't believe that's downplaying it, look at what he said. Read the last sentence. I don't have it in front of me. 'This is a small group of people' and finish the sentence."
KARL: "I'll read the whole thing again. He was asked directly, do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the world? His answer: 'I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have a very, very serious problem."
MULVANEY: "Look, this is not the same as international nuclear weapons. This is a serious problem, there's no question about it. But they are sick, sick people and the president knows that. Again, Jon, I don't think it's fair to try and lay this at the feet of the president. There are people in this country this morning thinking that President Trump was happy by this. That's a sad, sad state of this nation. He's angry. He's upset. He wants it to stop. I don't think it's at all fair to sit here and say that he doesn't think that white nationalism is bad for the nation. These are sick people. You cannot be a white supremacist and be normal in the head."

Why it matters: Some evidence from authorities indicate the mass shooting in El Paso on Saturday, which resulted in at least 20 deaths, could be prosecuted as a hate crime. Police are investigating a racist online post that appeared just before the shooting, per AP. The shooter allegedly told police after the shooting that he "wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible," according to ABC News.

  • A number of 2020 candidates and high-profile Democrats accused President Trump of fueling racism and violence in the aftermath of the shooting. Beto O'Rourke said on CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump is a "white nationalist" and that "this cannot be open for debate."

2020 candidate Julián Castro responded to Mulvaney's defensive stance in a follow-up interview on ABC:

  • "It's so unfortunate that not only our president but his administration can't rise up to the challenge of leadership in these times."
  • "There's one person that's responsible directly for that shooting in El Paso and that's the shooter. At the same time, as our national leader you have a role to play in either fanning the flames in division or bringing Americans of different backgrounds together."

Go deeper: What you can and must do to help stop mass shootings

Go deeper

Updated 58 mins ago - Economy & Business

The billionaire balloon

Data: World Inequality Report 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

The super-rich are getting stupid rich: New data out today shows the share of global wealth held by the richest slice of humanity swelled by almost a full percentage point during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The top 0.01% of individuals now hold about 11% of the world's wealth, compared to just over 10% in 2020, according to the "World Inequality Report 2022," written by Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
59 mins ago - Health

Omicron gives a shot to boosters

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Vaccination rates have ticked higher since the discovery of the Omicron variant, CDC data shows.

By the numbers: The seven-day average for vaccinations in the U.S. reached about 1.8 million on Monday, up from an average of about 1.3 million a month ago.

Scoop: Over 200 papers quietly sue Big Tech

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news. 

Why it matters: What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.