President Donald Trump has questioned the loyalty of American Jews to the United States, according to a new report in The Washington Post focusing on the president’s attitudes and policies around race.
Behind closed doors, Trump “has muttered that Jews ‘are only in it for themselves’ and ‘stick together’ in an ethnic allegiance that exceeds other loyalties,” the newspaper reported in a lengthy article based on interviews with two dozen former and current White House officials.
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His remarks about Jews, the officials told the Post, took place after he finished a phone call with Jewish members of Congress.
The Post article also reported that “in unguarded moments” with his aides, Trump had “maintained that Black Americans have mainly themselves to blame in their struggle for equality.”
Regarding Hispanics, Trump’s “private musings” on the community “match the vitriol he has displayed in public,” and he expressed “antipathy” towards Africa, telling his wife that he “could never understand why she would want to go there,” according to the article.
However, none of the officials interviewed by the Post told the newspaper that they “could recall Trump uttering a racial or ethnic slur while in office” or viewed him as “an adherent of white supremacy or white nationalism.”
Most of his controversial public behavior regarding race, such as his remarks on the white supremacist rally and counter-demonstrations in Charlottesville in August of 2017 asserting there were “very fine people” on both sides, stemmed less from personal ideology than a desire to please his supporters, his aides said told the newspaper.
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“I don’t think Donald Trump is in any way a white supremacist, a neo-Nazi or anything of the sort,” a third former senior administration official told the Post. “But I think he has a general awareness that one component of his base includes factions that trend in that direction.”
The Post story said that following the Charlottesville remarks, Gary Cohn, then the White House economic adviser, had a “heated exchange” with Trump in which the Jewish aide threatened to resign, telling Trump that “there were no 'good people' among the ranks of those wearing swastikas and chanting “Jews will not replace us.”
Trump responded to Cohn by denying he had made the statement, an official told the Post. Cohen replied by telling the president “not only did you say it, you continued to double down on it,” offering to show him the transcripts. Cohen did not resign over the incident, remaining in his post until 2018.
The article takes note of senior adviser Stephen Miller’s influence as the architect and driving force between the administration’s “hard-line policies that aim to deport, deny and discourage non-European immigrants.”
It further notes that “as a descendant of Jewish immigrants, Miller is regarded warily by white supremacist organizations even as they applaud some of his actions.”
The article quotes the founder of the neo-Nazi website Stormfront as saying that although Miller may promote their interests, his camp “doesn’t consider him one of us — for obvious reasons. He’s kind of an odd choice to be the white nationalist in the White House.”