WASHINGTON — Virginia Senator Tim Kaine excoriated the Trump White House on Sunday for failing to mention Jews in its International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, a move he deemed consistent with the tactics of Holocaust deniers.
“This is what Holocaust denial is,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “Many Holocaust deniers acknowledge, ‘Oh yeah, people were killed but it was a lot of innocent people. Jews weren’t targeted.'”
On Friday, the administration released a statement remembering the victims of the Holocaust without noting the six million Jews who were targeted and killed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, an omission that led to criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and others.
“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” President Donald Trump said. “It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.”
That came the same day Trump signed an executive order suspending all refugee resettlement from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days and forbidding those from war-ravaged Syria from entering the country indefinitely — a policy that was immediately put into place; a federal judge intervened to stay part of the ban on Saturday night, barring refugees and visa holders who are already legally in America from being turned back.
Kaine — who was the running mate of Trump’s former campaign rival, Hillary Clinton — suggested the two acts were related.
“You put a religious test on Muslims and you try to scrub reference to Jews in the Holocaust remembrance,” he said on Meet the Press Sunday morning. “This was horribly, horribly, mishandled.”
Todd asked if he thought it was “more than a coincidence that it all happened on Friday.”
“I think all of these things are happening together,” he said, “when you have the chief political adviser in the White House, Steve Bannon, who is connected with a news organization that traffics in white supremacy and anti-Semitism, and they put out a Holocaust statement that omits any reference of Jews.”
Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, is the former head of the Breitbart News Network, which he himself has boasted of as the “platform of the alt-right,” an amorphous designation for a movement affiliated with white supremacist ideas that oppose multiculturalism. Bannon has denied he harbors any anti-Semitic sentiments.
“Remember, earlier administrations have done these statements,” Kaine told Todd. “And so the first thing you do is you pull up to see what earlier statements have said, and the earlier statements — President Obama, President Bush — always talk about the Holocaust in connection with the slaughter of Jews. The Final Solution was about the slaughter of Jews. We have to remember this.”
“This is what Holocaust denial is,” he added. “Many Holocaust deniers acknowledge, ‘Oh yeah, people were killed but it was a lot of innocent people. Jews weren’t targeted.’ The fact that they did that and imposed this religious test on Muslims in the executive orders on the same day, this is not a coincidence.”