President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign seems to have decided that a contentious shutdown of the government was the exact right time to release a video ad that calls Democrats “complicit” in murders carried out by illegal immigrants. The ad, which was released on Saturday, focuses on an undocumented immigrant charged with killing two police officers in 2014. “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants,” the ad says.
The news release that accompanied the ad, which is titled “Complicit,” made it clear that the video posted on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s presidency, was released to coincide with the shutdown. The release specifically blamed Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for “holding lawful citizens hostage over their demands for amnesty for illegal immigrants.”
Schumer immediately blasted the ad with his spokesman calling it “a shameless attempt by the president to distract from the Trump shutdown. Rather than campaigning, he should do his job and negotiate a deal to open the government address the needs of the American people.”
Even though the ad ends with Trump saying he approved the message, the White House tried to distance itself from the video on Sunday. Marc Short, the White House’s legislative affairs director, told NBC’s Chuck Todd that the ad had been produced by an “outside group” and not anyone in the White House. Todd seemingly couldn’t believe what he was hearing: “Donald J. Trump for President is an outside group?” Todd wondered. Short then defended the ad saying that “it’s helpful to continue to raise awareness of the crisis we have.”
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized the ad, calling it a way to “foment hatred” and create divisions. “It is really unbelievable and so sad for our country that we have a president of the United States who says such nonsense and such outrageous statements,” he said. House Speaker Paul Ryan also didn’t seem very pleased with the ad. “Look, I’m not going to comment,” Ryan told CBS’ John Dickerson. “I just saw that. I don’t know if that’s necessarily productive.”