The Slatest

Many in Pittsburgh Don’t Want Trump to Visit, and Congressional Leaders Won’t Join Him

Mourners arrive at a Pittsburgh synagogue for the funeral of two brothers killed in the Tree of Life shooting.
People arrive outside Pittsburgh’s Rodef Shalom temple for the funeral of Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims Cecil and David Rosenthal on Oct. 30. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

President Donald Trump will visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday afternoon, following Saturday’s massacre of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue, despite the Pittsburgh mayor asking him to stay away and the family of one victim saying they wouldn’t meet with him.

The Washington Post and CNN reported that no congressional leaders—not Republicans Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, nor Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi—accepted invitations from the White House to join the president. The county executive who lives near the synagogue also said he would not join the president.

Additionally, “more than 1,200 people have signed up for a demonstration at the same time—declaring Trump ‘unwelcome in our city and in our country,’ ” according to the Post, while more than 70,000 people have signed an open letter organized by the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc, a progressive Jewish organization, saying “you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism” and “you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.”

Trump himself has been visibly and audibly uncomfortable with the ramifications of the shooting Saturday. He held a rally in Illinois that night, saying falsely that the New York Stock Exchange opened the day after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as a justification for continuing his pre–midterm election blitz of speeches and rallies. When he said at the rally he would “tone it down, just a little bit,” the crowd booed. He also blamed his aggressive tone on the media, saying, “if the press was evenhanded, if the press was fair, I’d have a much different tone all the time.”

Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, however, was more receptive to Trump’s visit, saying, “The president of the United States is always welcome. I’m a citizen, he’s my president. He is certainly welcome.” The synagogue’s former rabbi Chuck Diamond, in contrast, told the Daily Beast that Trump’s “rhetoric is awful” and that he “would plead with the president to wait” to visit until after the victims had been buried. The synagogue’s former president, Lynnette Lederman, told CNN, “I do not welcome this president to my city. … The hypocritical words that come from him tell me nothing.”* The president-elect of a synagogue that shares the building with Tree of Life told the New York Times, “I do not want President Trump to come to Pittsburgh. I feel very sad saying that because I think if he was capable of feeling empathy or understanding how much we welcome strangers into our community, he would be welcome here.”

Correction, Oct. 30, 2018: This piece originally misspelled Lynnette Lederman’s first name and misidentified the president-elect of the congregation that shares Tree of Life synagogue.