In a combative press conference, President Trump deflected a question about a rise in anti-Semitism by describing himself as “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen.”
After numerous argumentative exchanges, the room was already tense early Thursday afternoon by the time Jake Turx, a journalist for Ami Magazine, which caters to the Orthodox Jewish community, asked Trump to address concerns about anti-Semitism in the U.S.
He said some members of the Jewish community are concerned that the Trump administration has not been outspoken in denouncing bomb threats against Jewish centers or other anti-Semitic actions over the past few weeks.
As with many other reporters at the press conference, Trump lamented that the question was not fair. He ordered Turx to sit down.
“OK, so here’s the story, folks. No. 1: I’m the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2: racism, the least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican.”
Although Trump interpreted the question as a personal attack, Turx did not accuse Trump or anyone in his administration of being anti-Semitic. In fact, he added a disclaimer to his question that he was not making any allegation of the sort.
Trump told Turx to be quiet when the reporter tried to clarify the question.
“Let me just tell you something, that, um, I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question,” Trump said.
The president brought up his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to prove that he is not anti-Semitic.
“You heard Netanyahu yesterday. Did you hear him? Bibi? He said, ‘I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time.’ And then he said, ‘Forget it.’ So you should take that instead of getting up and asking a very insulting question like that.
“See, it just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is.”
Shortly after, Turx tweeted that Trump clearly misunderstood the question.
President Trump clearly misunderstood my question. This is highly regretful and I'm going to seek clarification. #TrumpNewsConference
— Jake Turx (@JakeTurx) February 16, 2017
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