Sanford: I Didn’t Blame Trump for the Shooting — He Is Partially to Blame for the ‘Breakdown of Civility’

Thursday on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) attempted to clarify remarks he had made earlier in the day tying President Donald Trump to the shootings in Alexandria, VA that resulted in House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) being in critical condition.

Sanford said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Trump was “partially to blame” for the environment that led to the shooting. But in his appearance on CNN from Nationals Park in Washington, DC, he told host Anderson Cooper that Trump was not to blame for the shooting itself.

Partial transcript as follow:

COOPER: When you — when you said that about the president being partly to blame for the demons that have been unleashed —

SANFORD: And I want to be clear. I didn’t blame him for the shooting that took place yesterday.

COOPER: Of course.

SANFORD: What I said was, we have gotten to a point in terms of breakdown of civility in our country that it’s a problem, and that everybody is to blame and the blame can go on Republicans side, go on the Democratic side. But when the president says to somebody in the audience, I wish I could hit you in the face, if not, why don’t you do it and I’ll pay your legal fees, we ought to call it for what it is. That’s a problem.

And we ought to call of — I guess each other, whether it’s in church, whether it’s in business, whether it’s civically, we ought to call each other on, are we being human with each other in the way that we relate, because to have an open and civil society, you got to have a civil debate.

COOPER: And you saw that at a senior center, people using expletives against each other and that’s a new development.

SANFORD: Again, I’ve been around politics for 20 years. I’ve never seen this kind of energy before. It’s a very negative energy. And these are people who will be playing croquet with each other the next day. It’s like they don’t know each other. They know each other and yet they were using certain expletives that just don’t fit.

And I — you know, I called somebody on it, and that’s when they said to me, “Well, wait a minute, if the guy at the top can say anything to anybody at any time, why can’t I say what I want?” And I said because that’s not the way we relate to each other.

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Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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