After President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning retweeted several anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British leader, a few Republican senators publicly criticized Trump’s endorsement of the unverified videos.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a vocal Trump critic, simply called the retweets “highly inappropriate.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told MSNBC that while he believes Trump was trying to highlight the threat of terrorism, the decision to retweet the videos was “not helpful.”
“To me the effect is that you’re taking a fringe element in British society and giving it the presidential seal. And David Duke was happy with it. So anything that makes David Duke happy is probably a bad day,” Graham said.
Asked again about the retweets, Graham said that retweeting the anti-Muslim videos “empowers fringe elements on the right who have been associated with religious bigotry.”
“And the last thing you want to do in this war is make it about the religion itself. Radical Islam is the enemy. Most people in the faith are the key to winning this war,” he said.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) suggested to Bloomberg News’ Sahil Kapur that Trump should not have supported videos from the leader of the far-right group Britain First.
Britain First’s Jayda Fransen tweeted videos (two of which have been debunked) purporting to show Muslim people committing violence, and Trump retweeted then early Wednesday morning.
The British government was quick to condemn Trump’s retweets of the videos.
“Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions,” a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement. “They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right.”
Despite quick condemnation from the British government, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s decision to retweet the videos.
“The threat is real, and that’s what the President is talking about, is the need for national security, the need for military spending, and those are very real things, there’s nothing fake about that,” she told reporters Wednesday.
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