In a statement issued by his Republican presidential campaign yesterday evening, Trump suggested Clinton and her allies were using the matter to distract from her own recent campaign troubles. Trump said the tweet portrayed "a basic star, often used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behaviour," as part of an effort to convey that "Crooked Hillary is the most corrupt candidate ever."
It was the presumptive GOP nominee's most extensive comment since his official account tweeted then deleted the image Saturday, sparking uproar over its potentially anti-Semitic connotations. Trump's account later posted a new version with a circle in place of the six-point star.
Addressing the origins of the tweet for the first time, Trump campaign social media director Dan Scavino said in a statement posted on Trump's Facebook page yesterday evening that he had lifted it from an anti-Clinton Twitter feed and had never intended to offend anyone.
"The social media graphic used this weekend was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site. It was lifted from an anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear," he wrote.
He said that the star, which he described as a sheriff's badge "fit with the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it."
"As the social media director for the campaign, I would never offend anyone and therefore chose to remove the image," he added. The image had previously appeared on a white supremacist message board filled with anti-Semitic messages as well as the Twitter feed of a self-identified comedian who tweeted provocative and offensive images. Trump's campaign had not responded to questions since Saturday about who posted the message and where it was found.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said Trump's attempt to dismiss the concerns of people who have taken issue with the post "falls somewhere between absurd and offensive."
"It's not a left-wing issue or a right-wing issue," he said. "It's not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It's a matter of common sense." Greenblatt said: "It would be appropriate and timely for the presumptive GOP nominee for the White House to say unequivocally, I want nothing to do with these ideas," and to say "hate has no place in making America great again."