President Trump is facing backlash Sunday for suggesting the FBI missed warnings about the Florida school shooter because it was too busy focusing on possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who has often been a vocal critic of the president, said it was an “absurd statement” during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
And former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper dismissed the president’s suggestion, saying the revelation the FBI missed several warnings about the shooter revealed the tremendous stress and pressure law enforcement officials face.
“That’s at best, I think, disingenuous,” Mr. Clapper told CNN of Trump’s comment.
Mr. Trump had tweeted Saturday that it was “very sad” the FBI missed the “many signals.”
“This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
The president and first lady Melania Trump went to Florida on Friday and visited several gunshot victims at the Broward Health North Hospital in Pompano Beach. They also met with law enforcement officials who helped save lives during the tragedy on Wednesday.
Someone who knew the 19-year-old gunman, Nikolas Cruz, had called a tip line in January, and disclosed Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
The FBI admitted protocols weren’t followed in investigating the warning, which would have been the responsibility of the Miami field office, but it was never informed of the tip from the FBI’s headquarters.
“On behalf of myself and the over 1,000 employees of the Miami field office we truly regret any additional pain that this has caused,” Robert Lasky, the special agent who heads the FBI’s Miami office.
Cruz has admitted to the shooting and is willing to plead guilty to killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School if the death penalty is taken off the table.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida is calling for Mr. Wray to resign for overlooking the warning.
But the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee Rep. Adam Schiff of California told CNN Sunday he didn’t think Mr. Wray should step down.
“I don’t think the director should resign, no, but there clearly is a problem here,” he said, adding he supports the investigation into the missed tip.
The Justice Department launched an investigation and review of the FBI Friday after it announced missing the red flag and not following proper protocols.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Fox News he met with sheriffs after the shooting, who said officials need to do a better job of following up on warning signs.
“That is probably the most valuable thing we can do to stop these kind of cases,” Mr. Sessions said on Sunday. “We need to do a better job of identifying people who could possibly present threats to children in a school.”
But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, who has been a vocal advocate for stricter gun control, said she’s writing legislation to make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase a rifle.
Authorities say Cruz used an AR-15 to murder the 17 people at his former high school, where he had been expelled for violent behavior.
Feinstein said there’s already age restrictions on purchasing handguns from licensed dealers.
“If you can’t buy a handgun or a bottle of beer, you shouldn’t be able to buy an AR-15,” Ms. Feinstein said. “This is common sense and I hope my Republican colleagues will join me in this effort.”
• Stephen Dinan and Dave Boyer contributed to this report.
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