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Trump on Las Vegas massacre: 'An act of pure evil'

By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump addressed the deadliest mass shooting in US history on Monday morning from the White House, calling it an "act of pure evil."

The gun attack on a country music festival Sunday in Las Vegas killed at least 50 people and injured more than 400 others.

"My fellow Americans, we are joined together today in sadness, shock and grief," Trump said from the Diplomatic Reception Room.

The massacre in Nevada is the worst domestic act of violence of Trump's presidency. He was briefed on the situation Monday morning by his chief of staff, John Kelly, and conveyed his initial condolences on Twitter.

"My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!" he wrote.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the attack a "horrific tragedy" and said in a statement that the White House was "monitoring the situation closely."

As a candidate, Trump used the Orlando night club shooting -- until Monday, the worst mass shooting in American history -- as a data point in his push to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.

"I said this was going to happen -- and it is only going to get worse," Trump said in a statement then.

Trump was criticized for immediately connecting the incident to radical Islamic terrorism, but later he was defiant when the shooter was identified.

"Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!" Trump wrote on Twitter in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting.

Little is known about the perpetrator of the Las Vegas attack. Authorities have identified 64-year-old Stephen Paddock as the gunman.

During the course of his presidency, Trump's predecessor Barack Obama responded to more than a dozen mass shootings. His responses ranged from angry, to emotional, to -- by the end of his term -- resigned.

On Monday, Trump was originally scheduled to speak at an event about regulatory reform, but his public remarks were canceled. Later in the day he's slated to meet with Republican governors and the prime minister of Thailand.

He still plans to travel on Tuesday to Puerto Rico to survey storm damage, the White House said.

Trump's full remarks

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, we are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief. Last night, a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. He brutally murdered more than 50 people, and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are working closely with local authorities to assist with the investigation, and they will provide updates as to the investigation and how it develops.

I want to thank the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and all of the first responders for their courageous efforts, and for helping to save the lives of so many. The speed with which they acted is miraculous, and prevented further loss of life. To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful. It shows what true professionalism is all about.

Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one -- a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims: We are praying for you and we are here for you, and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period.

Scripture teaches us, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve. To the wounded who are now recovering in hospitals, we are praying for your full and speedy recovery, and pledge to you our support from this day forward.

In memory of the fallen, I have directed that our great flag be flown at half-staff.

I will be visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with law enforcement, first responders, and the families of the victims.

In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one -- and it always has. We call upon the bonds that unite us -- our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity.

Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. 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.

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded, or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack. We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear.

May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost. May God give us the grace of healing. And may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on.

Thank you. God bless America. Thank you.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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