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Updated March 29th, 2023 at 13:12 IST

'I’m joking...no idea': Biden laughs off hate crime motive angle in Nashville shooting

US President Biden laughed off a question from a reporter about whether the shooter at the Nashville Christian elementary school was targeting people of faith.

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When asked by a reporter if the Monday shooter at the Christian elementary school in Nashville was specifically targeting people of faith, US President Joe Biden responded that he had no idea. “I have no idea,” Biden replied when questioned by the media outside the White House on Tuesday regarding Monday's shooting at The Covenant School in Tennessee, which resulted in the deaths of three children and three adults.

Biden's response to being informed that Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo) believed that the attack specifically targeted Christian believers caused raised eyebrows. “Well, I probably don’t then,” Biden quipped, chuckling after the remark, and then adding, “No, I’m joking. No, I have no idea.”

US Senator Josh Hawley, 43, urged the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to investigate Monday's shooting at The Covenant School in Tennessee as a hate crime against Christian believers. In a letter addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Missouri Republican described the attack as a "targeted" assault aimed at Christians and called for the deployment of "the full resources of the federal government" to uncover the motives behind the crime committed by 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a former student at the religious school.

During an appearance on the “Ingraham Angle” on Fox News Tuesday, Hawley told host Laura Ingraham that Biden’s comments were “beneath the dignity” of the presidency. “That is totally beneath the dignity of the office of the presidency of the United States. This is a guy, this is an office, that has the responsibility of leading this country – children are dead,” Hawley argued. 

“Biden should be acknowledging the targeting of people of faith. He should be saluting the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line and saved hundreds of kids. But he should be saying we’re going to get to the bottom of this, we’re going to call it for what it is – a hate crime – and we’re going to do a full investigation and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” the senator added. 

Yet to determine hate crime: Garland

During his testimony before lawmakers on Tuesday, US Attorney General Merrick Garland refrained from referring to the shooting at The Covenant School as a hate crime. Garland stated that the establishment of a motive is necessary before classifying the killings as a hate crime. “We are certainly working full-time with [authorities] to try and determine what the motive is, and, of course, motive is what determines whether it’s a hate crime or not,” Garland told lawmakers during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

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Published March 29th, 2023 at 13:12 IST

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