Did a White House Intern Use a White Power Symbol in Trump Photo? He Says He Was Copying the President

A White House intern has landed in hot water after some say he made a "white power" symbol in a White House photo with the president. The symbol has been adopted by members of the so-called alt-right. GETTY

Updated | A White House intern taking a presidential photo with Donald Trump is now denying he posed with a questionable symbol that has become synonymous with the so-called alt-right.

The intern, Jack Breuer, stands in the back of his intern class photo shoot with the president, posing with the symbol while all his peers give a thumbs-up instead, according to the Daily Mail.

Supposedly this White House intern is flashing a White Power symbol. But are we more shocked that there are racists in the White House or that even the ghost of George Washington is pointing them out. pic.twitter.com/j3vGzNghmn

— Aaron Prescott (@ACoolHandFluke) December 29, 2017

The interns recently received the photos in time for Christmas. Breuer posted an apology on Twitter for his prank.

"In some of our intern pictures, I emulated the OK sign the President sometimes makes," he said. "That was foolish. I should have listened more closely to the Commander-in-Chief and given the thumbs up. I'm proud of my Jewish heritage and strongly reject the hateful views associated with racist white power organizations. I would never make common cause with them."

Twitter users responded to Breuer's alleged apology, questioning whether he was sincere.

In some of our intern pictures, I emulated the OK sign the President sometimes makes. That was foolish. I should have listened more closely to the Commander-in-Chief and given the thumbs up. (1/2)

— Jack Breuer (@jjbreue) December 29, 2017

Alt-right leaders and political commentators like Milo Yiannopoulos have posed with the gesture, which resembles an "OK" hand symbol that some have said has a more malicious meaning by representing a "w" and "p" for "white power."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) claimed the gesture is not a hate symbol but a hoax started by the anonymous discussion board 4chan. In February, the group said 4chan users went on a mission to confuse social media by arguing that the OK symbol now stood as a sign of white supremacy.

"If someone presents you with a symbol and says it is the big new white supremacist symbol, you should be appropriately skeptical," Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the ADL's Center on Extremism, said in a May post.

Many Americans began using the symbol to impersonate Trump, who often made the gesture during his campaign speeches. Even Alec Baldwin has used the symbol when playing the president on Saturday Night Live.

Twitter users are now debating whether the symbol further signifies that white supremacists are working for the president.

Breuer worked for senior policy adviser Stephen Miller during his time as an intern, according to the Daily Mail. Miller was also accused of using the symbol in February when he was shown in a photo with his hands in a pose resembling it.

Stephen Miller flashed the "OK" White Power symbol from the White House last spring. Also shown, variations of the symbol from gang members. pic.twitter.com/Q722C7G7DU

— Stacy Friday (@stacy_friday) August 11, 2017

On Election Day, white supremacist leader Richard Spencer posted a photo on Twitter forming the symbol while standing under the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York.

Tonight's the night. pic.twitter.com/grvpHKVAn6

— Richard "5%" Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) November 8, 2016

Some reports suggest the hand gesture came from a meme cartoon of Pepe the Frog after white supremacists and Trump supporters claimed it. In one meme, the frog is seen making the symbol. The ADL labeled the frog a hate symbol after hate groups appropriated it.

"I don't think anybody's going to accuse any user of Facebook for posting a picture of their wife or husband after giving birth to a child and giving the OK symbol as propagating racist messaging," Ryan Lenz, a senior investigative reporter at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told The Outline.

"In that context, I think when you see someone like Stephen Miller very clearly adjusting his suit with the hand gesture on both hands, it is very clearly the Pepe OK. You know what that means," Lenz said.

This article has been updated to include additional comments from Twitter.