During a White House news briefing on Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended President Trump’s decision the day before to retweet three anti-Muslim videos posted by a leader of the far-right hate group Britain First.
A reporter broached the topic by asking Sanders if Trump feels “that he has an obligation to ensure that the information he shares on his Twitter feed to millions of people is accurate?” All three of the Islamophobic videos Trump retweeted are misleading for various reasons.
Sanders didn’t directly answer the question. Instead, she said “the president feels that bringing up important issues of our time like extreme violence and terrorism are important to do.”
“That is what he was doing in that process, and I think he’s gonna continue to do that in a number of venues — whether it’s through speeches, whether it’s through Twitter, or other social media platforms,” she added.
The reporter followed up, asking Sanders whether Trump understands “that sharing those videos might incite violence against Muslims, and does he understand that he’s elevated a fringe political group that many people outside of Britain didn’t even know about?”
Sanders again dodged. She claimed that Trump’s decision to retweet videos that are too inflammatory even for Infowars actually represents an attempt to “elevate the conversation.”
“Look, I think what he’s done is elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat — that’s extreme violence and extreme terrorism, something that we know to be very real, and something the president feels strongly about talking about and bringing up and making sure is an issue every single day,” Sanders said.
During a press gaggle on Wednesday, Sanders argued it doesn’t matter if the videos Trump retweeted are accurate, as long as the threat posed by Muslims is “real.” But that rationale isn’t going over well in Britain, where several leading conservatives have criticized Trump for amplifying Islamophobic content posted by group linked with paramilitary extremism in the U.K.