Trump visits Pittsburgh synagogue to pay respects to victims of massacre

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President Trump on Tuesday visited the synagogue in Pittsburgh the place a gunman over the weekend opened hearth and killed 11 individuals within the bloodiest anti-Semitic assault in U.S. historical past.

The president traveled to Squirrel Hill, the historic hub of town’s Jewish group and the placement of Tree of Life synagogue. Trump was accompanied by first woman Melania Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White Home Chief of Workers John Kelly.

Accompanied by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, the president and first woman laid white roses and stones from the White Home – a Jewish custom – on the makeshift memorial outdoors the synagogue.

President Donald Trump and first woman Melania Trump arrive at Pittsburgh Worldwide Airport in Coraopolis, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, following final weekends taking pictures at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. (AP Picture/Andrew Harnik)

Trump’s go to got here on the day that Pittsburgh’s Jewish group held the primary in a weeklong sequence of funerals for the 11 individuals killed — allegedly by 46-year-old Robert Gregory Bowers — amid complaints in some quarters that his presence would take an excessive amount of focus off the useless. Some critics have accused Trump of fomenting racial and ethnic hostility and have mentioned he deserves among the blame for the bloodshed.

“Nicely, I am simply going to pay my respects,” Trump instructed Fox Information’ Laura Ingraham on Monday. “I am additionally going to the hospital to see the officers and among the people who have been so badly harm.”

Following his time on the synagogue, Trump traveled to the College of Pittsburgh Medical Heart to go to the injured victims, together with 4 cops wounded by gunfire throughout Saturday’s assault, and the hospital employees.

Trump’s journey is ready towards the backdrop of nationwide unease over incidents of political violence and hate, and questions on his credibility as a unifier. Since his 2016 marketing campaign for the White Home, critics say Trump has been sluggish to denounce white nationalists, neo-Nazis and different hate-filled people and teams that discovered widespread trigger along with his nationalistic political rhetoric.

A whole lot of protestors gathered a number of blocks from the synagogue throughout Trump’s go to.

Native and spiritual leaders have been divided on whether or not Trump ought to go to. Pittsburgh Mayor Invoice Peduto, a Democrat, instructed reporters earlier than the go to was introduced that the White Home must seek the advice of with the households of the victims about their preferences and requested that the president not come throughout a funeral.

Neither he nor Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf deliberate to look with Trump Tuesday.

Peduto’s spokesman mentioned the mayor’s “sole focus” is on the funerals for victims and supporting their households.

“He’s making no different appearances, whether or not with the president or anybody else,” the spokesman mentioned. “That’s his focus for the remainder of the week, too, as funerals are scheduled for on daily basis by means of Friday.”

Beth Melena, Wolf’s marketing campaign spokeswoman, mentioned the governor didn’t plan to return to Pittsburgh as a part of Trump’s go to on Tuesday. She mentioned he based mostly his choice on enter from the victims’ households, who instructed him they didn’t need the president to be there on the day their family members have been being buried.

“Neighborhood leaders expressed to the governor that they didn’t really feel it was acceptable for Trump to come back, so the governor decided to not be part of him on his go to out of respect for the households and the group,” Melena mentioned.

Home Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Home Minority Chief Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., additionally all declined to accompany the president on his journey to Pittsburgh. Ryan, nevertheless, tweeted that he was “grateful” to the president for touring to Pittsburgh.

Myers, the Pittsburgh rabbi who watched his congregants die on the Tree of Life synagogue, has confronted backlash after telling reporters “the president of the US is all the time welcome.”

“I’m a citizen. He’s my president. He’s actually welcome,” Myers mentioned.

Outstanding Pittsburgh Republican Jim Roddey instructed WPXI that Trump must keep away from any political discuss when he visits.

In Squirrel Hill, Barry Werber, 76, who mentioned he survived the bloodbath by hiding in a darkish storage closet because the gunman rampaged by means of the constructing, mentioned he hoped Trump would not go to, noting that the president has embraced the politically fraught label of “nationalist.”

“It is a part of his program to instigate his base,” Werber mentioned, and “bigots are popping out of the woodwork.”

He continued, “(Trump) has been lively within the midterms…and I hope he’s not going to come back right here and have a rally. That’s not what town wants. It’s not what the individuals need.”

Requested Monday if Trump has accomplished sufficient to sentence white nationalism, White Home Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders mentioned the president “has denounced racism, hatred and bigotry in all types on plenty of events.”

She added: “Some people — they’re grieving, they’re hurting. The president desires to be there to point out the assist of this administration for the Jewish group. The rabbi mentioned that he’s welcome as properly.”

Bowers was transferred from Allegheny County Jail to Butler County Jail on request of U.S. marshals Tuesday.  A supply from the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace instructed Fox Information that Bowers was launched from the hospital Monday for courtroom and by no means went again there.

Fox Information’ Barnini Chakraborty, Matt Finn, Madelin Fuerste and The Related Press contributed to this report.

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