President Biden laughed off a question from a reporter on Tuesday about whether the transgender shooter at a Christian elementary school in Nashville was targeting people of faith.
“I have no idea,” Biden, 80, told the media assembled outside the White House on Tuesday when asked if Monday’s deadly shooting rampage that claimed the lives of three children and three adults at The Covenant School in Tennessee was an attack targeting Christians.
When told that Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) believed that the attack did target Christian believers, Biden’s response raised eyebrows.
“Well, I probably don’t then,” Biden said, chuckling after the remark, and then adding, “No, I’m joking. No, I have no idea.”
Hawley, 43, called on the FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday to investigate Monday’s shooting as a hate crime against Christian believers.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Missouri Republican described the bloodshed at the Tennessee private school as the result of a “targeted” assault “against Christians” and called for “the full resources of the federal government” to be deployed to determine why 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a former student at the religious school, carried out the heinous crime.
“That is totally beneath the dignity of the office of the presidency of the United States. This is a guy, this is an office, that has the responsibility of leading this country – children are dead,” Hawley argued.
“Biden should be acknowledging the targeting of people of faith. He should be saluting the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line and saved hundreds of kids. But he should be saying we’re going to get to the bottom of this, we’re going to call it for what it is – a hate crime – and we’re going to do a full investigation and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” the senator added.
Attorney General Merrick Garland also resisted calling the Covenant School shooting a hate crime, telling lawmakers on Tuesday that a motive must first be established before determining whether the killings were a hate crime.
“We are certainly working full-time with [authorities] to try and determine what the motive is, and, of course, motive is what determines whether it’s a hate crime or not,” Garland told lawmakers during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.