Reporters repeatedly corner Sarah Sanders as she flails trying to defend Trump's anti-Semitism

Reporters repeatedly corner Sarah Sanders as she flails trying to defend Trump's anti-Semitism
PBS NewsHour

President Donald Trump has opportunistically joined in on attacks against the Democrats as their internal disputes about Israel and anti-Semitism continue, reportedly telling a group of GOP donors this weekend that "Democrats hate Jewish people."


But on Monday, during the White House's first televised briefing in more than a month, reporters cornered Press Secretary Sarah Sanders as she tried to defend his own rank hypocrisy on the issue and his own not-so-subtle endorsements of anti-Semitism. (She also didn't deny that he made the inflammatory claim about Democrats.)

ABC News reporter Jon Karl pressed Sanders on the subject, and she insisted that the president meant Democrats should have more forcefully condemned comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) critical of support for Israel that drew many rebukes for reflecting anti-Semitic tropes. (House Democrats unanimously voted for a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other bigotry, while two dozen Republicans dissented.) She noted that when Rep. Steve King (R-IA) openly endorsed white nationalism, the party directly rebuked him.

"You mentioned Steve King," Karl said. "The president — correct me if I'm wrong — has not condemned Steve King."

Sanders stumbled in response, saying that her own denunciations of King amount to a response from the president. Of course, she would later go on to defend the decline in public press briefings by referencing the fact that the president himself often makes himself available to answer questions directly from reporters — and he has never used the opportunity to denounce King. And he frequently takes to Twitter to comment on the latest controversies in the news — even if they're completely unrelated to the federal government — and yet he conspicuously remained silent on the King backlash when it was the focus of the news cycle.

CNN's Jim Acosta then pointed out that Trump's own comments after the Charlottesville incident in 2017 referred to "very fine people" on both sides of a conflict between anti-racist protesters and neo-Nazis, essentially saying some Nazis are good people.

"That's not at all what the president was saying," Sanders said. "The president has been incredibly clear and consistently and repeatedly condemned hatred, bigotry, racism in all of its forms, whether it's in America or anywhere else, and to say otherwise is simply untrue."

Of course, this defense was patently false. It's true that Trump sometimes denounces the most extreme forms of racist violence, like the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue. But other times he ignores the violence altogether — like the foiled plot of an alleged white supremacist terrorist who appeared to be a big fan of the president or the sprawling prosecution of a large white supremacist gang. At the same time, he endorses racist policies, such as his Muslim ban or immigration policies that restrict entry from countries he deems "shitholes," and he stokes racist fears against Central American migrants.

Watch the clips below:

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