There are been numerous anti-Semitic incidents across the country in the past few months, from gravestones at Jewish cemeteries being toppled to bomb threats and hateful graffiti. President Trump is expected to make remarks about them tonight during his presidential address, but he already discussed the situation with a group of state attorneys general earlier today, cryptically telling them that when it comes to reports of anti-Semitism, "sometimes it's the reverse."
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro shared details with Buzzfeed:
"He just said, 'Sometimes it's the reverse, to make people — or to make others — look bad,' and he used the word 'reverse' I would say two to three times in his comments," Shapiro said. "He did correctly say at the top that it was reprehensible."
Asked for further information about the purpose of the president's comments, Shapiro only said, "I really don't know what he means, or why he said that,” adding that Trump said he would be speaking about the issue in his remarks on Tuesday night.
Saying that he hoped to see clarification from the president in those remarks, Shapiro added, "It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.”
Earlier this month, during his press conference, Trump was asked about the rise of anti-Semitic incidents and replied, "Some of it written by our opponents…You don't think anybody would do a thing like that? Some of the signs you'll see are not put up by the people that love or like Donald Trump. They're put up by the other side. And you think it's, like, playing it straight? No. But you have some of those signs and some of that anger is caused by the other side."
This line of thinking has been reiterated by Trump's surrogates, including Anthony Scaramucci, who Tweeted it earlier today:
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) February 28, 2017
This conspiracy theory has also been peddled by Trump supporter (and former KKK Imperial Wizard) David Duke. So Trump is once again in great company, really tremendous, the best people:
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) February 21, 2017
The White House has yet to comment on Trump's remarks today.
Today, Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League CEO, said, "We are astonished by what the President reportedly said. It is incumbent upon the White House to immediately clarify these remarks. In light of the ongoing attacks on the Jewish community, it is also incumbent upon the President to lay out in his speech tonight his plans for what the federal government will do to address this rash of anti-Semitic incidents."
Speaking of "the reverse," last week, Trump called the series of anti-Semitic threats "horrible," and his daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism, denounced the wave of anti-Semitism:
America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 20, 2017