In the middle of the night, President Trump responded to the Austin bombings suspect's death with a short tweet posted less than an hour after the news broke nationally. He announced the suspect's death and congratulated law enforcement for their work on the case, but didn't elaborate or offer words of condolence for the victims' families. Some criticized his tweet's brevity and tone, viewing it in the context of Trump's reticence to speak on the serial bombings during previous weeks.
"AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD," Trump wrote. "Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!"
"It's terrible," he said on Tuesday. "The bombings in Austin are terrible. Local, state and federal are working hand in hand to get to the bottom of it. This is obviously a very, very sick individual, or maybe individuals. These are sick people, and we will get to the bottom of it. We will be very strong. We have all sorts of federal agencies over there right now. We're searching."
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had tweeted out a statement earlier on Tuesday saying that Trump "mourns for victims of the recent bombings in Austin."
But many viewed Trump's and Sanders' words as overdue because they came over two weeks after the bombings began. Some wondered whether Trump had been less inclined to issue statements because the attacks had mostly targeted people of color, or because they affected a county that's staunchly anti-Trump within a state that otherwise tends to support him.
"This is the 4th bombing in Austin, a metro area of 2M people," wrote Adam Best, CEO of progressive organization 50 States of Blue, after the trip wire bombing on Sunday. "Why hasn't Donald Trump tweeted or made a statement? Because the victims have been people of color so far? Because it’s a progressive city?"
"Can you imagine bombings occurring in McClean, Georgetown, Loudoun or Tyson’s killing and injuring white people and any suspicion of it being a person of color or Muslim," wrote a Virginia chapter of the NAACP that day. "The Tweeter in Chief would be apoplectic."
Many criticisms of Wednesday his tweet about the suspect's death followed a similar vein. Some Twitter users implied that Trump should be employing harsher language about the suspect, including using the word "terrorist," but suggested that he hasn't yet because the bomber was reportedly a 24-year-old white man. Others said that the president shouldn't be adopting a celebratory tone when he didn't put much energy into addressing the pain of the Austin community.
Still others said that Trump — though he broadly mentioned "law enforcement" — should have more specifically thanked the F.B.I., which was heavily involved in the case. Trump is known to mistrust the bureau and recently celebrated the firing of its deputy director Andrew McCabe in what McCabe called "part of this Administration's ongoing war on the FBI."
Shareblue Media's Tommy Christopher pointed out that Trump tweeted just once about the Austin bomber on Wednesday morning but twice about Robert Mueller and his special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump's Austin tweet was just 13 words, whereas his more extensive tweets about Mueller, one hour later, offered 78 words.
Trump might comment further on the Austin bombings and their suspected perpetrator as more information comes to light. It is not yet clear whether the suspect acted alone, what his motivations were, or whether there are remaining bombs around Austin that have yet to be detonated.