Donald Trump has finally weighed in on the controversy over his tweet critical of Hillary Clinton which has been linked to a white supremacy forum. He is insisting that the so-called "anti-Semitic Star of David" critics saw was actually a "sheriff's badge" and he also slammed "dishonest media" for playing up the controversy, reported CNN.
Trump's tweet featured a photo of Clinton surrounded by cash next to a red six-pointed star calling Trump's rival "the most corrupt candidate ever." The image was an exact duplicate of one posted earlier on a neo-Nazi, white supremacy internet message forum.
Several critics said the image was evocative of anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews. The head of the Anti-Defamation League called it a "classic trope of Jews and money implying that she [Clinton] is raising Jewish money".
The Clinton campaign has called it a "blatantly anti-Semitic image from racist web sites."
Trump's insistence that the star represented a sheriff's badge echoed the same defence of the star presented the previous day by his fired campaign manager and now Fox News commentator, Corey Lewandowski. He called the controversy "political correctness run amok."
Trump said in a statement: "These false attacks by Hillary Clinton trying to link the Star of David with a basic star, often used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behaviour, showing an inscription that says 'Crooked Hillary is the most corrupt candidate ever' with anti-Semitism is ridiculous."
Trump did not comment on the origin of the image, nor did he explain why the star was quickly changed to a circle in his tweet after the controversy erupted.
The Trump campaign's social media director, Daniel Scavino, said he was the one who chose the image, which he said was "not sourced from an anti-Semitic site," but from an "anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear.
"The sheriff's badge fit with the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it," Scavino added, without acknowledging that the entire image — not just the star — first appeared on the white supremacy site.
It is not the first time Trump has landed in trouble for retweeting tweets from right-wing accounts.
In 2015, Trump re-tweeted a far-right meme incorrectly stating that black people commit more violent crimes against white people than any other race. Black and white people are more likely to be killed by someone of their own race, according to FBI crime statistics.
In January, Trump retweeted from @WhiteGenocideTM a meme of a destitute-looking former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush. A month later he passed on a comment about his rallies from the same source. @WhiteGenocideTM's account lists its location as "Jewmerica," notes the Washington Post.
Trump also once tweeted — and later deleted — a campaign photo that included the American flag superimposed over Nazi soldiers. He blamed an intern for the goof-up.