Donald Trump has sparked a backlash after retweeting a post from a reported white supremacist on Sunday falsely blaming a subway attack in New York City on the Black Lives Matter movement and Antifa.
The president previously shared video of the random attack on the New York City subway, in which a 28-year-old suspect and well-known “transit nuisance” was arrested last year after he was seen pushing a white woman head-first into a parked subway car.
Mr Trump retweeted the video in June from an account known to spread xenophobic and anti-immigrant content.
He shared the video again on social media during the weekend, retweeting the same video — but this time from an account operated by a white supremacist, according to CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale. The account that posted the video also shared links in separate tweets to racist content on a video platform known to accommodate conspiracy theorists and the far right.
A caption in the post retweeted by Mr Trump read: “Black Lives Matter / Antifa.”
The president appeared to be using the recorded violence as part of a political strategy, seeking to highlight examples of crime in Democratic-majority cities, despite the incident not having anything to do with the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations sparked by the police-killing of George Floyd and other recent police-shootings of black men across the country, like Jacob Blake.
Outcry over the president’s retweet was swift online, with some decrying his apparent efforts to sow division amid ongoing protests in cities like Portland, some of which have ended with violence in recent nights.
David Frum, political commentator and author of Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy, wrote in a tweet: “This retweet by the man we are ashamed to call the president of the United States is the most blatant act of racial incitement in the history of that office.”
Referring to the 17th president of the US, he added: “Not even Andrew Johnson went this far.”
The backlash included former government officials like Walter Shaub, the director to the Office of Government Ethics under Barack Obama. He shared a tweet from The Intercept columnist Medhi Hasan that said the president “retweeted a video of a black man pushing a white woman on a subway platform” without any “context” or explanation, adding: “Pure incitement.”
“That’s because this is a full on white supremacist presidency,” Mr Shaub wrote, “and he’s now selling the ‘race war’ message of nazis.”
Mr Trump has a history of sharing videos that show black people harming white people on social media. He has also previously spread a video of his supporters chanting “white power” before the post was later deleted from his Twitter page.
To be clear, the suspect involved in the New York City subway attack — and the crimes he committed — had no reported connections in any way to Black Lives Matter or Antifa, a radical left-wing group opposing racism and right-wing ideologies, which the president has used as a blanket term to falsely paint peaceful protestors as antagonists.