U.S. President Donald Trump drew a rare direct criticism from a close ally November 29, when British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said it was wrong of him to retweet three anti-Muslim videos.
The videos were first tweeted by right-wing British nationalist Jayda Fransen of Britain First, as The Guardian explains. They purport to show Muslims throwing a boy off a roof, desecrating a statue of the Virgin Mary and attacking a boy on crutches. The videos are either several years old and taken out of context, as ABC News reported, or have been debunked by Snopes.com.
Whether the retweets were accurate or not is beside the point, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later in the day.
“The threat is real,” she said, referring to Trump’s goal of tighter border security, according to The Independent.
Trump’s remarks even drew criticism from an editor of the right-wing website InfoWars: “Yeah, someone might want to tell whoever is running Trump’s Twitter account this morning that retweeting Britain First is not great optics.”
As CNN reported, Trump said in a 2015 press conference: “You know, I retweet, I retweet for a reason.”
Trump frequently stirs passions with his well-known tweeting habits, but this seems to be a particularly noteworthy week — and it’s barely half over.
- On November 27, Trump publicly honored Native American World War II veterans. While saying that the Navajos “were here long before any of us,” he took a shot at longtime critic Elizabeth Warren, who has said she has Native American ancestors. “Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time … longer than you — they call her Pocahontas!” CNN reported. Trump’s spokeswoman said it wasn’t intended as a racial slur, though Native Americans and others begged to differ, as USAToday reported. Others noted that the ceremony took place in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson. Trump has often expressed his admiration for the seventh president of the United States, who signed the Indian Removal Act, the forced removal of tens of thousands of Native Americans from the southwest U.S.
- The same day, Trump criticized CNN, and a critic at The Atlantic and those speaking with USAToday responded that he was essentially threatening the news network’s First Amendment rights. CNN shot back.
@realDonaldTrump It’s not CNN’s job to represent the U.S to the world. That’s yours. Our job is to report the news. #FactsFirst 🍎
- A remark from Trump on Twitter on November 28 apparently derailed what was intended to be a meeting between Trump and congressional leaders from both parties, the Los Angeles Times reported. After Trump wrote, “I don’t see a deal” with Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi skipped the meeting, which was intended to address pending issues, including a sweeping tax reform package.
Fransen lauded Trump for the retweets — “God bless you Trump! God bless America!” — but the official response from the UK was sharp.
“Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions,” a statement from May’s office said. “They cause anxiety to law-abiding people.
“British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect. It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
The anti-Muslim tweets were discussed in the UK parliament, as this video posted by The Independent shows.