Sen. Richard Blumenthal tied President Trump's rhetoric to the mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques that left 49 worshippers dead Friday. In an interview with CNN's Alyson Camerota, Blumenthal said words have "consequences" and also warned that President Trump's comments this week in an interview with Breitbart could be a signal that he would not peacefully hand over power if he is defeated in 2020.
"Words have consequences, like saying we have an 'invasion' on our border and talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way," Blumenthal said during an interview on CNN.
"I think it's more than the president, it's the people who enable him, and who fail to stand up to him and speak out," he said.
"I think that the public discourse from the president on down is a factor in some of these actions," Blumenthal concluded.
"My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques," Trump tweeted Friday morning. "49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!"
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: A heartbreaking day, and of course our prayers go out to the people of New Zealand, particularly the loved ones and survivors and victims. But words do have consequences and we know that at the very pinnacle of power in our own country people are talking about "good people on both sides."
ALYSON CAMEROTA, CNN: You mean the president talking about it. I mean I know it's hard to call this out. I've heard this from a guest this morning, they're having a hard time calling this out for some reason.
BLUMENTHAL: I think it's more than the president. It's the people who enable him and who fail to stand up to him and speak out. And we're seeing some glimmers of spine now in the United States Congress, some of my colleagues in the last three votes standing up to him and saying no to his trampling on the Constitution.
But it is also more than words. The president has defied Constitutional norms and principles in declaring a national emergency.
Words have consequences, like saying we have an "invasion" on our border, and talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way. I think the public discourse from the president on down is a factor in some of these actions.
CAMEROTA: I mean, we don't have to guess, actually, at this. We don't have to connect the dots ourselves. This is what the suspects say. This guy put out, according to authorities, put out this manifesto where he connects the dots between the rhetoric that he likes to hear and his violent action.
I'm wondering what you think the president's quote to Breitbart, that he said. I just want to read it to you. This was from this week. He said, "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump, I have the tough people. But they don't play it tough until they go to a certain point and then it would be very bad, very bad." How do you interpret that?
BLUMENTHAL: I interpret that kind of comment as a danger to the peaceful transition of power in our democracy. That's one of the fundamental principles of our Constitution that we have that kind of peaceful transition of power and respect for the rule of law, which that kind of comment utterly betrays.
We are at a break the glass moment for our democracy. And so on an issue like transparency of the Mueller report, which I think is vital so that America knows the facts and evidence that are found there, on an issue like the declaration of a national emergency when there is one, usurping the powers of Congress on spending, guaranteed by the Constitution. We need to speak up and stand out. And I think my Republican colleagues need to show a little bit more backbone.
CAMEROTA: But if this is a break the glass moment, do you hear what President Trump said there, as that he would not relinquish power, as if there will not be a peaceful transfer of power in 2020 if he loses?
BLUMENTHAL: There are glimmers and hints of that fact, and that's what is so really alarming, even terrifying, in a remark of that kind. Because it encourages people who may, in fact, say, "We are going to resist, we're going to go to the streets, we are going to stop that kind of peaceful transition of power."