Trump’s Response to Two Gun Massacres Was a Full Week of Disasters

A photo of the president flashing a thumbs-up as he posed with an orphaned baby is being widely condemned.

As President Donald Trump departed the White House on Friday for a Hamptons fundraiser, a photo taken during Trump’s visit to meet with victims of the El Paso, Texas, shooting was going viral.

“This photo is so hard to look at,” Jon Lovett of Pod Save America tweeted. “The thumbs up. The wrongness of all of it.”

“This is obscene,” another journalist wrote

The image, which was first posted on the First Lady’s account, showed the president smiling and flashing a thumbs-up, as he posed with a baby who was orphaned in the El Paso, Texas shooting. The photo quickly sparked condemnation and palpable disgust on social media. It came as the latest in a series of serious missteps to come out of Trump’s visit to El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, where 31 people were killed last weekend in mass shootings.

Earlier, a cellphone recording emerged showing Trump bragging about the crowd size of a rally he held in El Paso months earlier while touring the hospital. “I was here three months ago…That place was packed,” Trump said. “That was some crowd—and we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot.”

The hospital visit was just one of many forums where Trump, in the face of two national tragedies, appeared squarely focused on himself this week.

Just hours before arriving in Dayton on Wednesday to commemorate the shooting there, Trump tweeted an attack at a prominent political opponent from El Paso: “Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement—& be quiet!”

Later, Trump lashed out at Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), angrily claiming they had “totally misrepresented” his visit.

“I’m really confused, we said he was treated very well,” Whaley said in response to Trump’s tweet. “I don’t know what they’re talking about ‘misrepresenting.'”

“Oh well. He lives in his world of Twitter.”

Trump concluded the week much as he started: vaguely signaling his support for strengthening background checks. “I will tell you I spoke to Mitch McConnell yesterday,” Trump told reporters. “He’s totally on board. He said, ‘I’ve been waiting for your call.'”

A spokesman for McConnell clarified that the Kentucky lawmaker had yet to endorse any specific gun reforms. 

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.