Donald Trump

Cuomo: ‘Virus of Hate' Fueled by Rhetoric From Washington

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "we have a virus of hate in this society" and called out President Donald Trump, saying he "incited it and exploited it and used it." 

Cuomo spoke Sunday on MSNBC after two mass shootings in about 13 hours killed 29 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The governors of New Jersey and Connecticut also spoke out Sunday for leadership from Washington and specific federal solutions to gun violence. 

"There is racism, there is hatred, there is anger," Cuomo said. "We have a virus of hate in this society that is breeding on the Internet."

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"I believe there's no doubt that that virus is being fueled and incited by a lot of the rhetoric that comes from Washington," he added. "No one can say that President Trump created racism and discrimination. It existed before President Trump. But I believe he has incited it and exploited it and used it."

Trump said at a press conference Sunday that "hate has no place in our country and we're going to take care of it." He said it was also a "mental illness problem" and promised more details on Monday. 

Cuomo said New York changed state laws after the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut and urged federal officials -- and presidential candidates -- to offer specific alternatives, such as banning assault weapons, banning high capacity magazines, and closing background check loopholes.

Flags were ordered lowered to half-staff in New York City and Connecticut in honor of the shooting victims. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the shootings "ought to be the wake-up calls to pull our national leaders out of the gun lobby's trance." He urged the Senate to vote on gun safety legislation that had been approved by the House. 

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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said there was "a real epidemic of domestic terrorism growing in this country." 

Lamont called for leadership in Washington that won't "cave to the NRA." 

"We need action because thoughts and prayers will not stop mass murder," he said on Twitter

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who is also running for president, tweeted that Trump "is giving license to this kind of violence" when he refused to condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists. 

But U.S. Rep. Pete King, a Republican who represents Long Island, said it was "shameful and irresponsible" to blame Trump for the shootings, "Just as would be wrong to blame Presidents Clinton and Obama for Columbine or Sandy Hook."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call an emergency session to pass a background check bill. 

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called on the president to "stop his racist rhetoric that has the effect of encouraging mass murder."

Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee whose district includes the west side of Manhattan and part of Brooklyn, said: "President Trump’s racist rhetoric has stoked the flames of hate and white supremacy, and increased the likelihood that people will commit mass murder based on these evil notions."

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