Donald Trump on Monday defended a tweet that described Hillary Clinton as "crooked" and that drew heat for containing an image that appeared to originate among white supremacists online.
The defense started Monday morning, when Trump on Twitter repeated his frequent criticism of the media, saying the use of a star in a since-deleted tweet was misinterpreted.
The original tweet, at 9:37 a.m. Saturday, the day Clinton was meeting with the FBI, showed a red Star of David shape against a backdrop of $100 bills. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee deleted that tweet by 11:19 a.m. and replaced the star with a circle in a subsequent missive.
The Clinton campaign, in a statement Monday, said Trump "should be condemning hate, not offering more campaign behavior and rhetoric that engages extremists."
"Donald Trump’s use of a blatantly anti-Semitic image from racist websites to promote his campaign would be disturbing enough, but the fact that it’s a part of a pattern should give voters major cause for concern," Sarah Bard, the campaign's director of Jewish outreach, said in the statement.
The Trump campaign fired back with a statement, referring to Clinton's use of a private email account while she was secretary of state and former president Bill Clinton's talk with Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch at the Phoenix airport last week. Lynch has said the conversation did not touch on the email investigation. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was interviewed by the FBI on Saturday.
The statement said Clinton's campaign was "trying to link the Star of David with a basic star, often used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behavior."
"Clinton, through her surrogates, is just trying to divert attention from the dishonest behavior of herself and her husband," the statement said.
Later, Trump's official Facebook page put up a post with the above statement as well as one from the campaign's social media director, Dan Scavino, that said the image was not "sourced from an anti-Semitic site." Scavino's statement said it was lifted from an "anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear."
"The sheriff’s badge – which is available under Microsoft’s 'shapes' - fit with the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it," Scavino said in the statement. "As the Social Media Director for the campaign, I would never offend anyone and therefore chose to remove the image."
“We’ve been alarmed that Mr. Trump hasn’t spoken out vociferously against these anti-Semites and racists and misogynists who continue to support him,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told The Post. “It’s been outrageous to see him retweeting and now sourcing material from the website and other online resources from this crowd.”
Trump's defenders had been making the argument that the star was like a sheriff's badge, not a Star of David.
Trump adviser Ed Brookover said Monday on CNN that "there was never any intention of anti-Semitism."
He said the campaign had corrected the image and planned to "move on."
"Not every six-sided star is a Star of David," he said.
The Post's Dave Weigel has rounded up similar social media blunders by Trump:
In November 2015, he tweeted a chart of bogus crime data from the fictional “Crime Statistics Bureau,” which wildly overstated how many white people were killed by black people. Charles Johnson, proprietor of the blog Little Green Footballs, traced the image to a Twitter user whose biographic information suggested that “we should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little moustache,” a reference to Adolf Hitler.
In January, Trump retweeted from @WhiteGenocideTM a meme of a destitute-looking former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, and in February he passed on a comment about his rallies from the same source. @WhiteGenocideTM’s account lists its location as “Jewmerica.”
In April, Trump retweeted a compliment from an innocuous-looking follower named Jason Bergkamp; a reporter from Fusion quickly discovered that Bergkamp had also praised Hitler.
This post has been updated.