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Reverend to Trump: Let Pittsburgh be

Rev. Sharon Risher, who lost her mother and cousins during a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, told CNN's Don Lemon that President Trump visiting Pittsburgh directly after the synagogue shooting is not what the community needs right now.

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 7:43 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2018 7:54 PM

President Donald Trump travels to Pittsburgh on Tuesday after the worst anti-Semitic crime in American history, bringing with him a pulsing anger that his rhetoric is being blamed for the attack and intent on proving to his critics he can behave like a president.

For Trump, the role of consoler has sometimes come uneasily and, in his view, without tangible benefit. Trump has complained in the past that so-called "presidential" moments have gone unnoticed by his critics and unheralded in the media, leading him to wonder what the point of it all was.

This weekend, after Trump forcefully decried anti-Semitism during campaign appearances, he again protested to confidantes that the message wasn't received with praise, according to people familiar with the conversations. Along with many of his aides, he viewed the continued questions about his divisive rhetoric as petty partisan attacks launched by his political opponents.

Still, after discussions with advisers that included daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who are Jewish, Trump declared his intent to visit Pittsburgh. The trip comes amid a last-minute midterm campaign push and has forestalled, for now, a planned address on immigration.

Trump has expressed concern his midterm messaging could be knocked off-kilter by the attack. Pittsburgh's mayor called on Monday for Trump to wait to visit until after burials are complete, but with an 11-rally itinerary set for the end of the week, there was little flexibility in the President's schedule.

His daughter and Kushner, will join Trump in Pittsburgh, along with first lady Melania Trump, who has sometimes worked with mixed results to soften her husband's public image. He is expected to meet with some members of the Tree of Life congregation, who lost 11 members when a gunman opened fire inside the synagogue on Saturday morning.

More grievance than grief

In the wake of the slaying at the Pittsburgh synagogue, Trump has demonstrated more grievance than grief. Those grievances, once again, are rooted in how he innately believes he is being mistreated by the media. For days, he's been complaining openly to allies and aides that he doesn't believe he's been given sufficient credit for his early comments denouncing the shooting.

But those comments were quickly overtaken by more inflammatory tweets from the President. Trump chose to use his bully pulpit on Monday by attacking the media -- not by calling out the anti-Semitic views of the gunman.

"There is great anger in our country caused in part by inaccurate and even fraudulent reporting of the news," Trump tweeted Monday, again calling the media "the true enemy of the people."

Those very public words help explain Trump's mindset, according to people who have spoken to him, who say his fury is out in the open for all to see.

Trump has said repeatedly he's committed to helping the nation heal its deep political schisms. Yet he's refused to acknowledge the role his own speech has played in the national divide.

At the first White House briefing in 26 days, press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the President on Monday and insisted he was being treated unfairly. She also repeatedly maintained that Trump was elected by an overwhelming majority of Americans, not saying he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.

That is a window into Trump reality -- how he sees things takes precedence over what actually happened.

The President also believes the pipe bomber, along with the synagogue mass shooting, is slowing Republican momentum in the final week of the midterm election campaign. That is one of the reasons, aides said, he is making an unprecedented investment for a sitting president: 11 rallies in six days.

"It doesn't matter if there's a midterm election or not, the President's going to fight back," Sanders said. "The President is going to defend himself."

Rhetorical links

The massacre widened a national debate over the President's divisive style started earlier in the week, when a fervent Trump supporter sent pipe bombs through the mail to people the President criticized. The angry and at times violent messages Trump espouses on his Twitter feed and during his campaign rallies led to accusations he was fomenting those impulses in his followers.

It's an accusation that has infuriated the President, causing him to lash out in ways that only hardened the view that his words are mismatched for a somber national moment.

Even aides who, in the past, have privately pushed back when Trump labels the news media the "enemy of the people" have this week agreed with his sentiments, arguing that no matter what the President does, the mainstream press won't be satisfied.

That's led to a new level of combativeness, even as the country reels from hate attacks. And it's negated the President's weekend attempts at reconciliation, which were swiftly followed by rote political attacks and grievance-filled rants.

"You guys have a huge responsibility to play in the divisive nature of this country," Sanders said. "He got elected by an overwhelming majority of 63 million Americans, who came out and supported him and wanted to see his policies enacted. He's delivered on that. He's delivered on the promises he's made.

"If anything, I think it is sad and divisive, the way that every single thing that comes out of the media -- 90% of what comes out of the media's mouth -- is negative about this president," she said, her tone having shifted from a tearful response to the Pittsburgh shooting to indignant criticism of the assembled reporters.

She discarded concerns at the President's plans to continue politicking ahead of the midterm elections, despite the fraught national moment.

"The President is going to continue to draw contrasts, particularly as we go into the final days of an election, the differences between the two parties, particularly on policy differences," she said.

The disconnect between Trump's rhetorical style and the traditional parameters of his job isn't mere coincidence. He ran vowing to dispense with the politically correct restraints of the past and has upheld that promise steadfastly. Even in moments of mourning, the President has downplayed the role a president can play in providing the country a moral or emotional grounding.

'He's my President'

In Pittsburgh, some progressive Jewish leaders have encouraged the President to stay home. In an open letter to the President, members of the city's "Bend the Arc" organization wrote that his words and policies over the past three years "have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement," and that he is not welcome until he "fully (denounces) white nationalism."

But Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was leading services at Tree of Life during Saturday's shooting, said that "the President of the United States is always welcome."

"I'm a citizen. He's my President. He is certainly welcome," he said.

When Trump has met with victims' families after mass shootings or natural disasters in the past, he has has conveyed a style of empathy that can sometimes feel stilted, particularly when compared to the freewheeling style he employs in most settings. He has yet to deliver a eulogy at a memorial service honoring the memories of Americans slain in gun violence or other attacks.

When Trump met with family members of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting earlier this year, he was photographed clutching a notecard with handwritten prompts like "I hear you" and "What would you most want me to know about your experience?" -- a signal, at minimum, that some aides worried the usual signals of empathy may not come easily to him.

The White House on Monday insisted the President had demonstrated the required compassion during trying times.

"This is a President who has risen to that occasion and works to bring our country together in a number of occasions, whether it's the hurricanes, whether it's the Las Vegas shooting, whether it was the Pittsburgh shooting," Sanders said.

Already, some Republicans have expressed concern that Trump's antagonistic campaign style will be aired on a split screen with expected funerals for shooting victims later this week. Trump plans an aggressive schedule of rallies ahead of next week's vote.

Trump, meanwhile, has fretted that coverage of the mail bombings could distract from his midterm closing argument, which was built on dire warnings of a group of migrants seeking entry into the United States. Originally, Trump planned a major address on immigration this week, including the signing of a presidential proclamation that would prevent most, if not all, members of the group of migrants in Mexico heading toward the US from crossing the border.

There are now discussions in the White House about delaying the planned immigration moves, a step that would be sure to frustrate Trump, who complained last week that the pipe bomb attempts distracted from an announcement on lowering drug prices.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 294994

Reported Deaths: 6681
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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