Politics

Some Pittsburgh Politicians Will Not Be Seen with Trump When He Pays Respects to Grieving Community

Progressive group also writes open letter saying president is not welcome in Steel City

Image Credit: Olivier Douliery - Pool/JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

Several local officials in Pittsburgh are declining to appear with President Donald Trump on Tuesday afternoon when he visits that city as funerals for the victims of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue begin.

Democratic Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (pictured above right) — who said this week Trump should hold off on a visit as burials for the 11 slain in the massacre begin — will not appear alongside the president, according to his spokesman.

“Mayor Peduto’s sole focus today is on the funerals and supporting the families,” said Tim McNulty, Peduto’s communications director, according to CNN.

First lady Melania Trump, along with first daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, will reportedly make the trip to lend their support.

“I’m just going to pay my respects. I’m also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people that were so badly hurt,” Trump told Fox News host Laura Ingraham of “The Ingraham Angle,” in an interview that aired Monday night.

“I would have done it even sooner, but I didn’t want to disrupt [people] any more than they already had disruption. But I look forward to going to Pittsburgh,” the president added.

On Monday evening, Mayor Peduto said on CNN that he advised Trump’s aides that a visit on Tuesday was too early for that community.

“We did try to get the message out to the White House that our priority tomorrow is the first funeral,” Peduto told Anderson Cooper.

“I do believe that it would be best to put the attention on the families this week, and if he [Trump] were to visit, choose a different time to be able to do it,” he continued. “Our focus as a city will be on the families and the outreach that they’ll need this week and the support that they’ll need to get through it.”

Pittsburgh County Executive Rich Fitzgerald also said he would not be seeing President Trump on Tuesday.

“I will not be meeting with the president. If the president wishes to come next week, or the next, that’s something we can look at,” he told CNN.

“I’m focused on family and community.”

Related: Pittsburgh Slaughter Requires Death Penalty, Says Somber Trump

In Pittsburgh, a group of progressive Jewish leaders also pushed back on the president’s planned visit. In an open letter to Trump, members of the city’s Bend the Arc organization wrote that his policies as president “have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” and that he is not welcome until he “fully [denounces] white nationalism.”

They also accused him of making some groups unsafe: “Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted. You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. [Saturday’s] massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.”

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was leading a service at Tree of Life as Saturday’s shooting began, feels differently, saying Monday on CNN’s “New Day” that “the president of the United States is always welcome.”

The rabbi asserted, “I’m a citizen. He’s my president. He is certainly welcome,” he said.

The White House on Monday noted that the president has shown compassion during the hardest of 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,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

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