President Donald Trump’s Twitter account retweeted three videos from far-right activist Jayda Fransen on Wednesday morning, videos that claim to show Muslims destroying statues and beating people up. There is disagreement around whether retweets are neutral attempts to show content to a wider audience, or whether they should be seen as endorsements. Trump, however, has stated before that he sees them as endorsements.
Fransen, 31, is the deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right group that leads demonstrations in the United Kingdom. She was arrested in September on four counts of religiously aggravated harassment, and then again in November for using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior” at a Belfast rally in August. She is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on December 14.
The videos Trump retweeted are titled, “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches,” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary,” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death.”
The videos were retweeted by Ann Coulter several hours prior, leading to speculation that this is how the president saw them. Moments after the retweets, Trump switched to tweeting about fake news and the success of his policies.
Trump said in an August 2015 interview with CNN that he considers his retweets endorsements:
Reporter: Can you tell us your retweet strategy? Do you endorse what you retweet?
Trump: Well I do retweets, and I mean, to a certain extent, I do, yeah. I think that’s right. Do you want me to say no? You know, I retweet, I retweet for a reason.
It’s not the first time that Trump’s Twitter account has demonstrated disturbing support for the far-right. In March 2016 it was revealed that Trump had retweeted at least 75 people who follow white genocide hashtag influencers, and 67.5 percent of the top 50 influencers on the hashtag followed the then-candidate.
The account “NeilTurner,” who was retweeted by Trump five times, had “#WhiteGenocide is real” in the bio.