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 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 20,294,091 — Total deaths: 741,420— Total recoveries: 12,591,454Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,141,207 — Total deaths: 164,537 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. States: Georgia reports 137 coronavirus deaths, setting new daily record Florida reports another daily record for deaths.
  4. Health care: Trump administration buys 100 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. Sports: Big Ten scraps fall football season.
  7. World: Anthony Fauci "seriously" doubts Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe

EU threatens Belarus with sanctions amid third night of unrest

Belarus riot police detain protesters in Minsk on Tuesday. Photo: Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union warned Tuesday it could reimpose sanctions on Belarus as riot police clashed for a third night with demonstrators protesting this week's elections that the EU described as "neither free nor fair," per the Guardian.

Why it matters: The EU removed most sanctions against Belarus four years ago, after "Europe's last dictator" Alexander Lukashenko released political prisoners and permitted protests, AP notes. The EU said in a statement Tuesday it would be "conducting an in-depth review" into its relations with former Soviet country over his elections win claim and the deadly crackdown on protesters.

Ilhan Omar wins Minnesota primary

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) won the Democratic primary against lawyer Antone Melton-Meaux on Tuesday evening, AP reports.

Why it matters: The race is one that's played out across the U.S. as progressives continue to sweep party nominations. Omar's win officially means all four progressive members of "The Squad" have won their primary elections.