As friends and family of victims begin the grieving process and some of the injured continue to fight for their lives, President Donald Trump will travel to Las Vegas today to survey the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The White House has revealed no specific details about the president’s trip to Las Vegas, other than that he will meet with law enforcement, first responders and the families of victims killed in a mass shooting at a country music festival Sunday night that left 59 dead and more than 500 injured. The president is expected to meet with Gov. Brian Sandoval, Las Vegas Metro Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo and other elected officials Wednesday.
The trip marks Trump’s second visit to Nevada since taking office in January. He spoke at the American Legion’s annual conference in Reno in late August.
As he was leaving the White House this morning with First Lady Melania Trump to head to Las Vegas, the president called the incident in Las Vegas a “very sad thing.”
“We’re going to pay our respects and to see the police who have done really a fantastic job in a very short time,” Trump said, according to a pool report. “And yeah, they’re learning a lot more. And that’ll be announced at the appropriate time. It’s a very, very sad day for me personally.”
Trump, who called Sandoval in the early morning hours after the attack, described the mass shooting an act of “pure evil” during a press conference on Monday. He praised Metro and first responders for their “courageous efforts” and acting quickly to identify the shooter and prevent a further loss of life.
“Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence,” Trump said. “And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today — and always will, forever.”
He also brought it up during a Tuesday visit to leaders in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
“Condolences to everybody, who can believe what happened in Las Vegas, such a tragedy,” he said, according to pool reports.
President Trump himself has yet to seriously wade into the gun control debate in the wake of the Sunday shooting, saying only on Tuesday that the U.S. will “be talking about gun laws as time goes by.” But behind the scenes, the White House circulated talking points urging allies of the administration to emphasize that terrorist attacks can be committed with knives, cars and airplanes and make the case that some cities with the tightest gun control laws have the highest rate of gun violence.
“And when it comes to gun control, let’s be clear: new laws won’t stop a mad man committed to harming innocent people. They will curtail the freedoms of law abiding citizens,” the talking points state.
Though lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have noted either support for or opposition to tighter gun control laws in media interviews over the past couple of days, elected officials and candidates alike have tried to set aside politics to bring the state together in a trying time. In an unusual sight, Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt stood side by side with Democratic members of Nevada’s congressional delegation and also his likely Democratic foe in the 2018 gubernatorial race, Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, at multiple press conferences Monday and Tuesday.
A progressive group, Battle Born Progress, scheduled a Wednesday afternoon press conference with Democratic Rep. Dina Titus and several gun control advocates to respond to Trump’s visit and to call for “meaningful action at both the state and federal level from both Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Senator Dean Heller to prevent another senseless tragedy. “
A slew of planned political events and fundraisers were cancelled in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, including two likely gubernatorial announcements from Laxalt and Democratic Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani scheduled for Monday.
Down-ballot candidates also called off or rearranged their planned fundraising events. Democratic state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse — the target of a recall effort — postponed a planned Wednesday fundraising event, saying it’s a “time to set aside politics and assist the victims and their families.”
Newly-minted Republican Assembly Leader Jim Wheeler also delayed a fundraiser and instead used his email list to publicize a statewide blood drive on Oct. 11 at several United Blood Services locations to continue supporting the victims after the initial rush to help.
Wheeler said that he had tickets to the country music festival, but decided not to go because of his age and the cost of a plane ticket. The Douglas County assemblyman said he and his constituents were heartbroken over the news.
“They’re devastated. They’re absolutely devastated,” he said. “They can’t believe something like this happening in Nevada.”
Michelle Rindels contributed to this report.