Trump breaks media silence, tweets criticism of fellow Republican

The Republican Jewish Coalition called on President Donald Trump to provide “greater moral clarity in rejecting racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism.”

August 17, 2017 13:46
2 minute read.
Trump speaks at the White House

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the White House. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump sent out three early morning tweets accusing Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of falsely characterizing his words.

The president's tweets came in response to a CNN interview with Senator Graham on Wednesday in which Graham said that "through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer."

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Trump has been under fire for failing to fully condemn the white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Within moments the tweets generated thousands of re-tweets, likes and comments.

Graham wasn't alone in his criticism. On Wednesday, the Republican Jewish Coalition called on the president  to provide “greater moral clarity in rejecting racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism.”

“The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are dangerous anti-Semites,” the group’s national chairman, Norm Coleman, and executive director, Matt Brooks, wrote in a statement posted first on Twitter. “As representatives of an organization … with many members who experienced first hand the inhumanity of the Nazi Holocaust, we state unequivocally our rejection of these hatemongers — you can expect nothing less from the Republican Jewish Coalition.”

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law, also tried and failed to convince Trump to moderate his comments on the white supremacist rally and subsequent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, The New York Times reported.

Citing unnamed sources, The Times reported Tuesday that the couple, vacationing in Vermont over the weekend, urged the president to reconsider a statement he made on Saturday in which he blamed “many sides” for the violence that erupted at the rally.

Early Sunday, Ivanka Trump herself tweeted a message that more explicitly denounced the far-right ideologies on display in Charlottesville.

“There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis,” she said. “We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville.”

On Monday, President Trump appeared to heed his daughter's and Kushner's advice — “grudgingly,” The Times reported — by reading a statement saying that “racism is evil” and calling out neo-Nazis and white supremacists in specific terms.

On Tuesday, however, in extended unscripted remarks during a news conference in New York, Trump defended his prior assertion and said, “there is blame on both sides” for the violence. He appeared to equate protesters on the far left and far right.

A 32-year-old woman was killed Saturday in Charlottesville when a car driven by a white supremacist plowed into a group of counter-protesters.

JTA contributed to this report.

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