In early July 2016, Donald Trump touched off another brouhaha when he tweeted an image criticizing Hillary Clinton (right around the time Clinton was meeting with the FBI to answer questions about her use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state) that featured a head shot of Clinton, the words “History Made”, a six-pointed star (reminiscent of the Star of David, a symbol of Judaism) bearing the words “most corrupt candidate ever,” and a pile of $100 bills:
The Clinton campaign retorted that the graphic was offensive far beyond its political message for employing anti-Semitic imagery:
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 part of a pattern should give voters major cause for concern. Now, not only won’t he apologize for it, he’s peddling lies and blaming others. Trump should be condemning hate, not offering more campaign behavior and rhetoric that engages extremists. The president should be someone who brings Americans together, not someone who sends signals and offers policies of division.
Trump’s account tweeted the image a second time using a revised version with a circle in place of the six-pointed star and deleted the original tweet, claiming that the news media were distorting the tweet’s intent:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2016
Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff's Star, or plain star!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2016
The Trump campaign also responded to the controversy by issuing a statement asserting that accusations of anti-Semitism were “false,” and that the six-pointed star in the image was intended to represent a sheriff’s badge rather than the Star of David:
These false attacks by Hillary Clinton trying to link the Star of David with a basic star, often used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behavior, (showing an inscription that says “Crooked Hillary is the most corrupt candidate ever”) with anti-Semitism is ridiculous. Clinton, through her surrogates, is just trying to divert attention from the dishonest behavior of herself and her husband. The real questions are, why was Bill Clinton meeting secretly with the US Attorney General on her case and where are the 33,000 missing emails and all of the other information missing from her case — Why are there so many lies?
Trump’s disclaimer was rejected by many who noted that the image sent out via Trump’s Twitter feed had originally been posted to an anti-Semitic, white supremacist message board:
Ten days before Trump tweeted it, the graphic appeared on a message board jam-packed with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, white supremacist ideology and neo-Nazi propaganda. And a Twitter user, “@Fishbonehead1,” who frequently posted Islamophobic and racist memes, claimed credit for the original image shortly before the account was deleted. The account first tweeted the graphic June 15.
Trump campaign social media director Dan Scavino then took to Facebook to deny the claimed origins of the image:
The social media graphic used was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site. 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.
As the Social Media Director for the campaign, I would never offend anyone and therefore chose to remove the image.