House GOP leaders say white nationalism accusations are all politics

House Republican leaders are rebutting accusations from Democrats, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and others that their rhetoric has contributed to white supremacy in light of Saturday’s Buffalo, N.Y., shooting, in which a white shooter targeted Black victims, killing 10 people. 

“Same thing Cheney always does, just trying to play a political game when she knows something’s not true,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Monday evening.

Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) similarly said that those accusing Republicans of racism are “trying to promote their own political agenda.”

Cheney, who was the No. 3 Republican in the House before being ousted over her vocal criticism of former President Trump, wrote on Twitter Monday morning, “House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism.”

“History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse,” Cheney tweeted. “@GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

Following the Buffalo shooting, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also accused Republicans of legitimizing racist views on the Senate floor on Monday.

“Every time MAGA Republicans or pundits vilify wrongly immigrants and call them invaders, every time they falsely claim that millions of undocumented people cast ballots in our elections, and every time loud bigoted voices bemoan the disintegration of an imagined ‘classic’ America, the subtext is clear: these hard-right MAGA Republicans argue that people of color and minority communities are somehow posing a threat — a threat — to the American way of life,” Schumer said.

McCarthy and Scalise vehemently denied doing so. 

“We’ve been very vocal against white nationalism,” Scalise said.

“We have never supported white supremacy. And, you know, what happened in New York is horrific. And I think everybody should be there to be uplifting the community. The suspect is the very worst of humanity,” McCarthy said. “For political individuals to try to make some political game out of this shows how little they are from that aspect.”

Scalise referenced his own experience with violent crime, when he was shot and critically injured during a 2017 shooting at a congressional baseball game practice.

“This is a time when you need to be praying for the victims and ratcheting down the rhetoric and not trying to blame other people than the people directly responsible for the shooting,” Scalise said. “I’ve seen that firsthand. And this is a time when we need healing, not people trying to promote their own political agenda.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the No. 3 House Republican, is also defending her leadership team amid the onslaught of accusations.

The congresswoman got caught up in media coverage in recent days after Kinzinger, a regular critic of his colleagues close to former President Trump, resurfaced an article on Twitter on Saturday about her Facebook advertisements in September that accused Democrats of plotting a “permanent election insurrection” through amnesty to undocumented immigrants for political purposes. Those statements, Kinzinger and others argued, echoed the racist replacement theory allegedly espoused by the Buffalo shooter.

Stefanik senior adviser Alex deGrasse, however, went on the defensive on Monday, asserting that the congresswoman “has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement.”

DeGrasse also slammed reports and comments that connected Stefanik to the shooting.

“Any implication or attempt to blame the heinous shooting in Buffalo on the Congresswoman is a new disgusting low for the Left, their Never Trump allies, and the sycophant stenographers in the media,” deGrasse wrote in a statement. “The shooting was an act of evil and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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