Trumps pay tribute at synagogue where 11 were fatally shot

First lady Melania Trump, accompanied by President Trump and Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, right, puts down a white flower at a memorial for those killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — One stone and one white rosebud for each victim.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump paid homage Tuesday (Oct. 30) to each of the 11 people slain in the worst instance of anti-Semitic violence in American history. As the Trumps placed their tributes outside the Tree of Life synagogue, protesters nearby shouted that the president was not welcome.

The emotional, dissonant scene reflected the increasingly divided nation that Trump leads, one gripped by a week of political violence and hate and hurtling toward contentious midterm elections that could alter the path of a presidency.

On their arrival in Pittsburgh, the Trumps entered the vestibule of the synagogue, where they lit candles for each victim before stepping outside. Shouts of “Words matter!” and “Trump, go home!” could be heard from demonstrators gathered not far from where a gunman had opened fire on Saturday.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who had been conducting services when the shots rang out, gestured at the white Star of David posted for each victim. At each, the president placed a stone, a Jewish burial tradition, while the first lady added a flower. They were trailed by the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who are Jewish.

Near the synagogue, flowers, candles and chalk drawings filled the corner, including a small rock painted with the number “6,000,011,” adding the victims this week to the estimated number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The Trumps later spent more than an hour at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where some of the victims are recovering. The couple’s motorcade passed several hundred protesters on the street and a sign that said “It’s your fault.” Inside, Trump visited with wounded police officers and spent an hour with the widow of victim Dr. Richard Gottfried, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump stepped into the role of national consoler, a title he wears uncomfortably, with his visit to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. More at home waging partisan warfare than assuaging America’s grief, Trump has shied away from public displays of unity in the wake of other tragedies.

Sanders said Trump did not speak publicly Tuesday to denounce anti-Semitism because he has spoken about it before.

“He wanted today to be about showing respect for the families and the friends of the victims as well as for Jewish Americans,” Sanders said.

Questions have long swirled about the president’s credibility as a unifier. Since his 2016 Republican campaign for the White House, Trump has at times been slow to denounce white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other hate-filled individuals and groups that found common cause with his nationalistic political rhetoric.

Trump traveled to the historic hub of the city’s Jewish community as the first funerals were held for the victims, who range in age from 54 to 97. The dead include a set of brothers, a husband and wife, professors, dentists and a physician.

Hundreds of protesters assembled to show their displeasure with Trump’s presence, some carrying signs that said “Hate has No Home in Squirrel Hill” and “Trump Loves Nazis.”

Squirrel Hill resident Paul Carberry said Trump should not have visited until the dead were buried.

“He didn’t pull the trigger, but his verbiage and actions don’t help,” Carberry said.

But Shayna Marcus, a nurse who rushed to the synagogue on Saturday to help with the wounded, said she felt that the president was taking an unfair portion of the blame.

“I don’t think focusing on Trump is the answer — or on politics,” said Marcus, whose four yarmulke-wearing boys carried signs in support of the president.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, back in Washington, told reporters: “If people are there to protest, that’s their right. For the president, it was not a moment for politics.”

When Air Force One touched down at the airport outside Pittsburgh, the Trumps were not greeted by the usual phalanx of local officials that typically welcomes a visiting president, a reflection of controversy surrounding the visit.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, told reporters before the visit was announced that the White House ought to consult with the families of the victims about their preferences and asked that the president not come during a funeral. Neither he nor Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf appeared with Trump.

Beth Melena, campaign spokeswoman for Wolf, said the governor based his decision to stay away on input from the victims’ families, who told him they did not want the president to be there on the day their loved ones were being buried.

As Trump’s motorcade wound through downtown Pittsburgh, some onlookers saluted the president with upraised middle fingers and others with downturned thumbs.

The White House had invited the top four congressional leaders to join Trump in Pennsylvania, but none accompanied him.

A spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he already had events in his home state of Kentucky, pushing back on the suggestion that he declined. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office said he could not attend on short notice. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also opted not to participate.

(Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire write for The Associated Press.  Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Allen G. Breed and Maryclaire Dale in Pittsburgh and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.)

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  • TRUE OR FALSE: “To denounce anti-Semitism … [US President Donald Trump] has spoken about … before.”

    TRUE: “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America. To anyone who acted criminally in … racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered.​ … As a candidate I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge. We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear. We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams, in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in our souls.”
    – US President Donald Trump, August 14, 2017.

  • False. He is a hero to antisemites

    .., white suprema­cist David Duke cel­e­brated Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory in Indi­ana, which made him the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent. Duke also used the show as yet another oppor­tu­nity to pro­mote his vir­u­lent brand of anti-Semitism, blam­ing Jew­ish “neo-cons” for try­ing to destroy Trump’s can­di­dacy and for allegedly con­trol­ling the country.

    HpO dishonors the memory of the slain by lying about what inspired it.

  • This is a fine example of how it has become de rigueur for the media to present opinion, often as in this case completely unsupported and irrelevant, as fact.

    Did a reporter ask the President if he felt uncomfortable?

  • “Questions have long swirled about the president’s credibility as a unifier.”

    What questions are those? He needs to have credibility as a unifier in order for it to be questioned. He doesn’t have the slightest bit. He has always been an unbelievably divisive president who has never made the slightest effort to reach out to the majority of the country who voted against him. He has never been called a unifier by anything other than a right-wing sycophant. The only people he unifies are the alt-right extremists.

  • He was so divisive he got elected.

    It would appear the only people who think he is divisive are those who did not vote him.

    And they call the folks who voted for him “alt-right extremists”, which is very divisive.

  • He got elected while losing the popular vote. So by your logic, those who think he’s divisive constitute a majority of the country. Are you going to sit here and pretend Trump has been successful at unifying the country?

  • He won the popular vote, excluding California.

    California is so far from the American norm it’s divisive in and of itself.

    If he wins elections, it’s hard to make the argument he’s divisive.

    Of course if you’re you or Governor Brown of California, he raises YOUR hackles.

  • The president was obligated to show up. It is part of his job.

    Frankly given the rhetoric from conservatives, right wing hardliners here, it is clear Trump bears responsibility for fanning the flames of panic and hate which led to this.

  • So he won the popular vote if you ignore the most populated state in the country? Wow. That’s easily the dumbest thing I’ve read all day. And I read an article on how some Christians think the majority of all Halloween candy has been cursed by witches.

  • Yes, President Trump’s rock-solid support for Israel and his ready acceptance of Jews in his family are SO hateful. And now the rabbi is being inundated with hate mail thanks to his acceptance of Trump’s visit. Trump is a laughable failure as a unifier, but I’ve seen no evidence that even if he was a master at it the Left would have any interest in responding.

  • If you thank that’s the dumbest thing you’ve read all day, you should trying reading your own posts.

  • Rock solid support for Israel’s right wing would be more honest. Most Israelis and American Jews do not support Trump or welcome the kind of “help” he is giving to Israel.

    Robert Bowers acted on Trump’s mid-term election manufactured fear of a group of refugees. Conservatives here have been acting on it in the same vein.

    “Trump is a laughable failure ”

    Stop. End sentence.

  • You are saying conservative racism is Obama’s fault? Because he made you follow along with white supremacist garbage coming from Trump? Does Obama have mind control powers over you? That is some laughable horse crap right there.

    You are in some serious denial.

  • Yessir; I do believe that is what I am saying… 🙂

    You sounded like Charlotte there for a minute.

  • That figures. Tater is about the only one around here who stooped to upvoting her, which says a lot on the subject of potato IQ and potato maturity.

  • Instead of fake[news]ing it, share, then, your cherished & fond memories of:

    – Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, City of Pittsburgh
    – Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township
    – Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
    – Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough
    – Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
    – David Rosenthal, 54, (brother of Cecil), of Squirrel Hill
    – Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg
    – Sylvan Simon, 86, (husband of Bernice), of Wilkinsburg
    – Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
    – Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
    – Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington, City of Pittsburgh

  • Not a rebuttal or refutation. Calling a local San Diego paper “fake news” is pathetic. Your ability to copy and paste does not help you

  • According to a Gallup poll released last January, 67% of Israel approved of Trump’s leadership, a jump of 14 points over Obama’s last year. So whatever American Jews might think of Trump, Israeli Jews are solidly in his corner.

    And no, considering Bowers’ contempt for Trump I strongly doubt he was reacting to anything Trump said.

  • No link, huh? It’s telling that American Jews, the victims of the massacre, generally don’t support Trump. Trump isn’t concerned with them or Israel. He is concerned with appealing to fundies. People unconcerned with the country beyond their mythical needs.

    The people giving me the garbage panic over the refugee caravan which Trump generated and sought to capitalize on are following what drove Bowers.

    Your attempt to distance Trump’s own rhetoric from the panic which he intentionally created is dishonest.

    You are just embarrassed from the clear and obvious effect from inflammatory rhetoric you support.

  • Israelis are pretty skeptical about Trump’s “support” of their country,
    “Trump’s support for Israel is not principled foreign policy at all. It is, rather, Trumpian self-centeredness, intended solely to assure Evangelical backing for his reelection. ”

    ” someone that dislikes Trump even more than I do will care even less than I do about anything he says.”

    Yet you go along with his rhetoric and make constant excuses for his bad/incompetent/malicious behavior. Your dislike doesn’t seem to extent to anything of substance. Much like Robert Bowers. A man pushed over the edge by Trump’s blatant fear mongering over what sane people would have considered a humanitarian crisis.

    “but it had nothing to do with anything Trump had to say about it.”

    Other than being entirely inspired by Trump’s own fear mongering of using this group as a call to white supremacists as a looming threat. Coupled with the anti-semitic appeals frequently made by Trump and supporters under the guise of invoking “George Soros” and “globalists”. (New versions of “zionists” and “international bankers”)