Trump Doesn't Verify What He Tweets, Says White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

SarahSanders
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says President Donald Trump did not know he was spreading messages by the deputy leader of a far-right British group when he posted a series of videos on social media this week.

Asked by reporters during the White House press briefing Thursday whether Trump knew who Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First was, Sanders said, "No, I don't believe so."

Sanders said the president "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, Trump did not know he was spreading information from a member of a hard-right group who was found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment after verbally abusing a Muslim woman in a hijab last year.

On Wednesday, Trump retweeted a video posted by Fransen, which she claimed shows a Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches.

Police in the Netherlands have said the attacker in the video is himself Dutch, and neither a Muslim nor a migrant.

Britain First is known for "invading" mosques and other anti-Islam political stunts in the U.K.

Trump also retweeted a post by Fransen that shows an Islamic extremist supporter of Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Another message Fransen posted claims to show an Islamist mob pushing a teenage boy off a roof and beating him to death. The video is missing context and was shot during the military overthrow of Egypt's former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Read more: Far-right party promoted by Trump threatens New York Times reporters for doing their jobs

By retweeting a member of the hard-right, Trump has sought to "elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat, and that's extreme violence and extreme terrorism," Sanders said.

Britain First thanked Trump publicly on Twitter on Thursday for "all our new followers" after Fransen gained tens of thousands following the social media profile she uses to spread the group's message.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May condemned Trump's tweets. "It is wrong for the president to have done this," she said on Thursday, noting it causes "anxiety to law-abiding people."

The Department of Justice has been arguing in court that Trump's tweets count as "official statements" from the government.

This is far from the first time Trump has been criticized for retweeting unverified information. As early as 2015, then–Fox News host Bill O'Reilly took Trump, a primary candidate at the time, to task for retweeting debunked homicide statistics that falsely claimed blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims.

"Hey, Bill, Bill, am I gonna check every statistic? I get millions and millions of people, @RealDonaldTrump, by the way," Trump told O'Reilly.

"You're a presidential contender, you gotta check 'em," O'Reilly said.

"Excuse me. All it was, was a retweet," Trump replied.

Trump Doesn't Verify What He Tweets, Says White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders | U.S.