Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) said that President Donald Trump's rhetoric makes people feel like they have a "permission slip" to commit terror attacks, after a shooter killed one and wounded three at a San Diego synagogue on Saturday.
Durbin called the attack "domestic terrorism," and said that the Trump administration would have responded differently had the attacker been non-white or a Muslim.
"Had there been someone from the Middle East involved in this, someone with a green card involved in this, can you imagine the alerts that would have come out from the White House about the threats of terrorism to the United States?" he said during an appearance on CNN's New Day.
"Yet this president does just the opposite. With a wink and a nod he says to these nationalists and supremacists, ‘I know they are just trying to protect the statue of Robert E. Lee,'" Durbin said, in reference to Trump's 2017 comments following the violent Unite the Right March in Charlottesville, Virginia.
New Day co-host John Berman pushed back, telling Durbin that Trump condemned the synagogue attack "very strongly."
"Of course he did, and he should have," Durbin said. "But the point I'm getting to is why do these people feel they have license to attack synagogues, to attack Sikh temples, to attack churches across the United States. This has really been fomented because of rhetoric we hear from the White House."
"Do you think the president is giving him license?" Berman asked.
"I think the president and his rhetoric is very loose, and, as a consequence, people feel a permission slip to move forward in areas they never have before," Durbin replied.
Trump condemned the shooter and the attack during a speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Saturday night.
"Tonight, America’s heart is with the victims of the horrific synagogue shooting in Poway, California—just happened," Trump said. "Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded, and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated."