President Donald Trump’s administration ignored warnings from the Department of Homeland Security to greater prioritize threats of domestic terrorism “such as those from white supremacists,” CNN reported Thursday.
In the report, a source told CNN, “Homeland Security officials battled the White House for more than a year to get them to focus more on domestic terrorism.”
But, seemingly, Trump’s administration saw no advantage in heeding such advice and decided to concentrate mostly on Islamic terrorism.
“The White House wanted to focus only on the jihadist threat which, while serious, ignored the reality that racial supremacist violence was rising fast here at home. They had major ideological blinders on,” CNN’s source said.
The report goes to say that the administration’s National Counterterrorism Strategy, from 2018, “minimized the threat of domestic terrorism” and what was added by the White House was “one paragraph about domestic terrorism as a throw-away line.” And it did not specifically mention white supremacists.
The seemingly purposeful denial or minimizing the existence of violence that comes from white supremacists is something that Trump has done since denying that he even knew who the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and prominent white supremacist David Duke was after Duke endorsed Trump for president in 2016. “I don’t know anything about David Duke,” Trump said then.
Trump also infamously side-stepped holding white supremacists accountable for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, two years ago, placing blame “on both sides.”
Trump may not be a master strategist, a talking point that started to take hold after he called out the “The Squad” and used racist rhetoric that lead to “send them back” chants at a rally. But he’s very aware of the support he receives from racists and white nationalists, and he has repeatedly shied away from unequivocal denunciations of them in anything other than the most token of forms. Racism is part of his movement, and he has ramped it up ahead of the 2020 election.
But his strategy might be having deadly consequences, as we saw this past week in El Paso. According to the report, the Department of Homeland Security “is surging resources to the [domestic terrorism] issue, but they’re behind the curve because of lack of support from the White House.”