Asked about a wave of recent anti-Semitic attacks, President Donald Trump told a group of state attorneys general on Tuesday that attacks are sometimes carried out in “the reverse” in order “to make people — or to make others — look bad,” according to Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who was at the meeting.
“He just said, ‘Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people — or to make others — look bad,’ and he used the word ‘reverse’ I would say two or three times in his comments,” Shapiro said, according to BuzzFeed. “He did say at the top that it was reprehensible.”
According to BuzzFeed, Shapiro said the comments “didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
A Pennsylvania reporter tweeted that Shapiro also said Trump assured him he would address the recent threats and acts of vandalism aimed at Jewish community centres and cemeteries during his major speech on Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.
The Democratic National Committee responded to Trump’s reported remarks, condemning what it considered to be Trump’s “questioning” the “legitimacy of JCC threats.”
“For millennia, Jews have not only endured unthinkable violence, but the subsequent denial of that violence,” DNC spokesman Eric Walker said in a statement. “For the president of the United States to insinuate that threats to Jewish community centres are illegitimate is truly beyond the pale.”
Trump has been asked several times in recent weeks, including during his press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, about an increase in anti-Semitic threats and acts of vandalism. Trump initially did not strongly rebuke the threats, but he denounced the anti-Semitic acts during a recent visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during the Monday press briefing that Trump strongly denounced anti-Semitic attacks after the latest acts of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery.
Early in his presidency, Trump caused a firestorm when his staff did not mention Jews in the White House’s official Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. The administration subsequently doubled down on its defence of the statement.
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