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Echoing Fox News, Trump immediately blames Chuck Schumer for New York City attack

"I guess it's not too soon to politicize a tragedy," Schumer responded.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On Wednesday morning, President Trump tried to pin blame on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for an attack in New York City that killed eight and injured 11 more.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty,” Trump tweeted. “I want merit based.”

In subsequent tweets, Trump made clear that his attempt to blame Schumer was inspired by his favorite TV show, Fox & Friends.

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“We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems,” he wrote. “We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).” He tagged the tweet “@foxandfriends.”

Indeed, shortly before Trump’s first tweet about Schumer, former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka joined Fox & Friends for an interview.

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Gorka politicized the attack, arguing that the violence allegedly perpetrated by Uzbeki national Sayfullo Saipov lends credence to Trump’s Muslim ban — which doesn’t included Uzbekistan.

Here are the facts about Trump’s attempt to assign blame: back in 1990, Schumer — then a congressman — did indeed play a key role in creating the so-called “diversity visa” program that reportedly allowed Saipov to enter the United States legally. But as the Washington Post details, that provision was part of a bill signed into law by Republican President George H.W. Bush. What’s more, a Government Accountability Office review of diversity visas during the George W. Bush administration found they posed no national security threat.

While the immigration bill Trump threw his support behind last summer would eliminate diversity visas, it also would sharply reduce immigration in general and give English speakers preferred status. The administration’s sales pitch for this plan has mostly been about trying to attract immigrants with “skills that will contribute to our economy”, but following Tuesday’s attack, Trump would have you believe it’s also been about keeping Americans safe all along.

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Trump’s Fox News-inspired attempt to politicize violence and pin blame on Schumer stands in contrast to his response to the largest mass shooting in modern American history in Las Vegas last month:

The day after the attack, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also claimed it was too soon to talk gun policy.

Meanwhile, research indicates an American is much more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist with a gun than by a Muslim extremist.

Schumer responded to Trump’s attacks by alluding to Trump’s propensity to try and politicize acts of violence he thinks were committed by non-white people.

In a statement on Wednesday, Schumer stood behind his support for diversity visas.

“I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America,” he said. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

Indeed, Trump’s proposed budget would cut more than $500 million from “critical counterterrorism programs,” according to a congressional report released in June.