Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump's anti-Muslim retweets 'elevate the conversation'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesSarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary.
  • White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended President Donald Trump’s controversial retweets of several anti-Muslim videos during a press conference Thursday.
  • The defence comes as Trump faces backlash at home and abroad from critics who say he is stoking anti-Muslim sentiment.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders again defended President Donald Trump’s retweets of several anti-Muslim videos first posted by the leader of a far-right group in the UK called Britain First.

“The president feels that bringing up important issues of our time like extreme violence and terrorism are important to do,” Sanders said during Thursday’s press briefing. “I think what he’s done is elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat.”

Sanders’ comments come as Trump continues to receive backlash from leaders in the US and the UK, who warn that the president may be dangerously stoking anti-Muslim sentiment and elevating a racist fringe group that had little reach outside of the UK before Wednesday.

Trump’s early-morning retweets included three videos posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the ultranationalist group Britain First who has previously been charged with religious aggravated harassment in the UK. The videos included footage purporting to show Muslims committing violent acts.

Sanders first justified the tweets by saying that Trump’s “goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security.”

Leaders in the UK, including Prime Minister Theresa May, swiftly condemned the tweets.

“Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions,”a spokesman for May said. “It is wrong for the president to have done this.”

Trump replied to the criticism later in a tweet.

“Don’t focus on me,” he told May. “Focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”

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