Gov. Nikki Haley said she would like to know more about what went wrong when the FBI admitted a mistake in not catching criminal records that could have prevented accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof from buying a gun.
“We expect when the feds say they’re going to do something, we take them at their word that it’s going to get done. And the fact that it didn’t get done is terrible,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And it’s one more thing that these families are going to have to go through that they don’t deserve to have to go through.
“It’s not about time. It’s about technology. When someone has a charge filed against them, it should go into a database it and it should be shown immediately to anyone that’s looking at it,” she said. “I would be more interested in what went wrong. Why are they dealing with paperwork and not dealing with technology?”
She did not call for an investigation. At least one member of South Carolina’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, called Friday for an investigation into the breakdown at the FBI.
Asked if the problem came from local enforcement, Haley said the FBI told state officials the mistake was a federal issue.
Roof, a 21-year-old from the Columbia area, was charged with possessing illegal drugs a few weeks before buying the gun at a West Columbia shop.
While the charge should have stopped the gun purchase, FBI director James Comey said the FBI background check examiner who evaluated Roof’s gun purchase did not find the records because the wrong police agency was listed, according to media reports.
When she learned of the news, Haley said, “I was literally sick to my stomach.”
Roof was charged with killing nine African-American parishioners at Bible study at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church last month in what police have called a hate crime
News of the FBI snafu came the same day South Carolina lowered the Confederate flag at the State House.
“It felt like a massive weight had been lifted off South Carolina,” Haley said about the flag’s removal.
The Civil War banner came down in response to the church tragedy.
Haley said on “Meet the Press” that South Carolina has made progress with the flag’s removal from the State House. She also mentioned new state school funding and passage of a law requiring police officers to wear body cameras after a North Charleston officer shot an unarmed African-American man in April.
“This was like a nice move forward to say that we’re not that state everybody thinks we are,” she said.
But Haley said she plans no changes in South Carolina’s voter ID law that has been criticized for potentially hurting minority turnout. She said she never saw race in the law, only that it meets the same standard needed to fly on planes or buy cold medicine.
The Republican governor also was asked about recent disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants by 2016 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. “I understand his frustration. The frustration he has about illegal immigration a lot of people have,” Haley said. “The difference is that we need to be very conscious of our tone. We have to be very conscious of how we communicate. There are a lot of legal immigrants that have made this country the place it is today.”
Haley said it “remains to be seen” if Trump is a viable candidate.
“I will tell you tone and communication is one of the things everybody is looking for,” she said. “We want someone that brings people together. We want someone that understands what unites us is a lot more than what divides us. ... Are you bringing more people in as opposed to excluding people out?”
Haley again said she is not focused on recent talk about becoming a 2016 vice presidential nominee.
“Its painful because nine people died,” she said. “That’s what I want people talking about, the Emanuel Nine that forever changed South Carolina and changed this country and showed what love and forgiveness looks like.”
A panel of experts speaking after Haley’s interview said they see the daughter of Indian immigrants getting a chance to join a presidential ticket with her successful call to remove the Confederate flag at the State House.
“Nikki Haley is the future of the Republican Party,” Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, said on “Meet the Press.” “It’s a new day in American politics. There’s a new right movement that’s brewing. This is the trend. Republican candidates not paying attention to Donald Trump need to stay the course for a humanistic kind of movement that’s based on compassion and that’s based on inclusiveness.”
The Associated Press contributed.