Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump on Monday dismissed criticism over a campaign ad that depicted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton next to a Star of David superimposed over piles of money, claiming it was actually a sheriff’s star.
Trump last week tweeted the image of Clinton surrounded by $100 bills with the words “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 claiming 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 a campaign ad slamming his opponent’s finances.
Turning his ire to the press over the whole debacle, Trump wrote on Twitter that, “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!”
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 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,” several days before Trump tweeted the image from his official account.
After appearing on Trump’s official Twitter feed on Saturday, the post was quickly removed and replaced by a revised version of the image, this time with his accusations of Clinton’s corruption appearing in a red circle.
However, social media users pointed out that the points of the star could still be seen on the edge of the circle.
Despite the outcry, Trump doubled down his criticism of Clinton on Sunday, saying on Twitter before defending his “sheriff’s star” post that “Crooked Hillary will NEVER be able to handle the complexities and danger of ISIS — it will just go on forever. We need change!”
Sarah Bard, Clinton’s director of Jewish outreach, said in a statement Monday that “Trump’s use of a blatantly anti-Semitic image from racist websites to promote his campaign” was part of a pattern. “Now, not only won’t he apologize for it, he’s peddling lies and blaming others,” she added. “Trump should be condemning hate, not offering more campaign behavior and rhetoric that engages extremists.”
Trump has previously come under fire for racially charged posts during the campaign. In January, he retweeted a post by an account with the handle “White Genocide TM,” which gives its location as “Jewmerica.”
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.