Donald Trump has suggested that Jewish people might be committing anti-Semitic hate crimes to make himself look bad.
After days in which he refused to comment on a spate of anti-Semitic attacks, Mr Trump broke his silence to repeat an neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that has claimed that the attacks are "false flags". Supporters of that belief – who include leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke – believe that such attacks are being perpetrated by Jewish people in order to undermine the White House.
Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, said that he had spoken to the President about a wave of threats to Jewish community centres. And Mr Trump said that they had been designed to make "others look bad".
Mr Shapiro was part of a group of state attorneys general who met with Trump at the White House Tuesday.
He said he asked Trump at the meeting about how states and the federal government could better collaborate against the threats.
He says Mr Trump responded by calling the threats "reprehensible, but then added that, "sometimes it's the reverse, to make people or to make others look bad." Mr Shapiro said that he had repeated the word "reverse" a number of times, stressing that the attacks might be perpetuated by Jewish people.
Mr Trump appeared to be echoing similar comments by David Duke, who commented not long before. He also suggested that the attacks were being perpetuated by Jewish enemies of Mr Trump and his movement, to undermine him.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she was not at the meeting, but says the president has made "extremely clear" that any act of violence directed at Jewish organisations is "condemned by this administration. Full stop."
Mr Trump had in fact repeatedly refused to condemn anti-Semitic threats and violence. When asked to condemn the rise during a White House briefing, he told a Jewish reporter to sit down, and the President has been criticised by groups including the Anne Frank Centre for his silence.
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