President Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to accept any responsibility for inciting violence in American communities, dismissing critics who have pointed to his rhetoric as a potential source of inspiration for some citizens acting on bigoted beliefs.
Little more than a week ago, he insisted he deserves “no blame” for what he called the “hatred” seemingly coursing through parts of the country, and outside of the White House on Friday, Trump accused news outlets of fomenting the very violence they’ve been asking him about.
But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 17 criminal cases where Trump’s name was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
Nearly all — 16 of 17 — cases identified by ABC News are striking in that court documents and direct evidence reflect someone echoing presidential rhetoric, not protesting it. ABC News was unable to find any such case echoing presidential rhetoric when Barack Obama or George W. Bush were in the White House.
The perpetrators and suspects identified in the 17 cases are mostly white men, as young as teenagers and as old as 68, while the victims represent an array of minority groups — African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gay men.
Federal law enforcement authorities have privately told ABC News they worry that — even with Trump’s public denunciations of violence — Trump’s style could inspire violence-prone individuals to take action against minorities or others they perceive to be against the president’s agenda.