President Trump didn’t verify the legitimacy of two anti-Muslim videos before he retweeted them, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.
On Wednesday, Trump retweeted the videos posted by the leader of Britain First, a far-right UK political organization that has been called a hate group. Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the move, which has strained the relations between the U.S. and Great Britain. One of the videos posted by Jayda Fransen claimed to depict a Muslim immigrant assaulting a Dutch boy on crutches. Police in the Netherlands said the assaulter was neither Muslim nor an immigrant and was also Dutch.
But Trump did not ascertain those facts before hitting RT, Sanders said. When asked by reporters during the White House press briefing if the president knew who Jayda Fransen was, Sanders replied, “No, I don’t think so.”
Sanders added that Trump “knew what the issues are” and that “we have a real threat of extreme violence and terrorism not just in this country, but across the globe, particularly in Europe.” But she said that Trump didn’t know he was retweeting information from a leader of a far-right group who was found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment after verbally abusing a Muslim woman in a hijab in 2016.
Trump wanted to “elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat, and that’s extreme violence and extreme terrorism,” said Sanders.
On Thursday, May condemned Trump’s tweets. “It is wrong for the president to have done this,” she said, adding it causes “anxiety to law-abiding people.” The UK Telegraph reported Friday that a “working meeting” between May and Trump scheduled for February has been canceled. The trip had already been scaled down from an official state visit, including an audience with the queen, to shield the president from protesters.
Even Breitbart News said the president’s retweets went “too far.” “Without knowing more about Fransen or Britain First, the president was wrong to retweet what she had posted,” wrote Breitbart’s Joel Pollack on the site Wednesday. “There is no way of knowing whether the videos are authentic, and — most important — when and where they were made.”