A controversial image depicting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton next to a Star of David superimposed over piles of money appeared on a white supremacist internet forum days before it was posted to Twitter by her rival in the race, Donald Trump.
The Mic website reported Sunday that the image had showed up on Pol, which it described as “an Internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists.”
It was apparently posted at least as early as June 22. The image has since been deleted from the forum, but could still be seen on an internet archiving site.
Trump’s image of Clinton surrounded by $100 bills read: “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” on a six-pointed star, a common Jewish and Israeli symbol.
Below the image was a screenshot of a Fox News poll reflecting that 58 percent of American voters considered Clinton to be “corrupt.”
The attack ad drew immediate condemnation from social media users, with some questioning Trump’s motive for using a six-pointed star in the campaign ad slamming Clinton.
After showing up on Trump’s official Twitter feed on Saturday, it was quickly removed. In just two hours, the tweet was deleted and replaced by a revised version of the image, this time with his accusations of Clinton’s corruption appearing in a circle.
However, social media users pointed out that the points of the star could still be seen on the edge of the circle.
The Mic report noted that the original file name for the image, as posted on the Pol forum, was HillHistory.jpg, possibly a hint at a coding system used by right-wing supremacists that highlights the two-letter combination “HH,” a reference to the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler.”
A watermark in the lower left corner of the image is for a Twitter account under the username FishBoneHead1, which often posts violent and racist messages, the report said.
According to the report, Trump’s Twitter account usually attributes its source for any image used from another Twitter account, which it didn’t do in this case, possibly indicating the image was taken from another source outside of Twitter and then posted.
Some social media pundits commented that the tips of the star showing along the edge of the retweeted circle was evidence that Trump’s team did not produce the original meme and were therefore not able to remove the star and replace it, resorting instead to imposing a circle on top.
This explains why he couldn't simply delete the star–didn't have the original unrasterized version. https://t.co/x7HZIckQef
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) July 3, 2016
Former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, defended the use of a six-pointed star on the meme and said in an interview with CNN that the pushback over the image was “political correctness run amok.”
“If this were to be a star next to Hillary Clinton without the cash behind it, no one would be questioning this,” he said, and noted that the six-pointed star is also used as a sheriff’s badge to represent law enforcement.
“It’s the mainstream media trying to attack Donald Trump for something that isn’t really there,” he said.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 3, 2016
A Trump spokesperson announced in June that Lewandowski was leaving, with sources saying he was forced out largely because of his poor relationship with the Republican National Committee and GOP officials.
In response to the Trump posting, Clinton’s campaign tweeted a link to a webpage listing Trump supporters, charging it read like a “who’s who of extremists.”
The company you keep says a lot about you (maybe no one ever told Donald Trump). https://t.co/PpgSed6aZJ
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 2, 2016
“The company you keep says a lot about you (maybe no one ever told Donald Trump),” Clinton’s tweet said.
Trump has previously come under fire for racially charged posts. Earlier this year, he retweeted a post by George Lincoln Rockwell, a prominent figure in the neo-Nazi movement in North America.
Much of Trump’s campaign has been marked by a pattern of inflammatory statements; he kicked off his campaign in mid-2015 with a speech in which he branded some Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.
He also sparked a furious outcry when he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” as a terror prevention measure later that year.
Trump has also faced a backlash for refusing to directly denounce anti-Semitic supporters, some of whom launched a harassment campaign against Jewish reporters who have written critically of the presidential contender or his wife.
Times of Israel staff and AP contributed to this report.