Trump ducks question on Corbyn anti-Semitism: ‘I know nothing about him’

Trump ducks question on Corbyn anti-Semitism: ‘I know nothing about him’

A month after saying UK Labour leader ‘would be so bad’ for Britain, US president changes course, says he ‘can work with anybody’

US President Donald Trump at Winfield House, London, December 3, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)
US President Donald Trump at Winfield House, London, December 3, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed he knows “nothing” about UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, when asked to comment on whether the UK Labour head was doing enough to combat anti-Semitism.

Trump, who is attending a meeting of NATO leaders, has said he doesn’t want to interfere in Britain’s election campaign.

But his presence in London nine days before the December 12 vote is a complication for Prime Minister Boris Johnson — and ammunition for his opponents.

Asked by a reporter whether Corbyn needs to do more to denounce anti-Semitism, Trump evaded the question by saying: “I know nothing about the gentleman. Really, Jeremy Corbyn, I know nothing about him.”

“I can work with anybody, I’m a very easy person to work with,” he added.

However, Trump sounded very different on October 31.

“Corbyn would be so bad for your country,” Trump told Euroskeptic hardliner Nigel Farage during a phone interview broadcast on his talk show on British radio station LBC. “He’d take you in such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places.”

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech on leadership and what a Labour government will achieve, during an election campaign event in Telford, central England on November 6, 2019. (Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

It was unprecedented criticism of a candidate to be British premier from a sitting US president.

Within minutes of that interview airing, Corbyn had shot back on Twitter that “Trump is trying to interfere in Britain’s election to get his friend Boris Johnson elected.”

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons, London during the debate for the European Union Withdrawal Agreement Bill: Second Reading, October 22, 2019. (House of Commons/via AP)

Much of the worry over Corbyn is spurred by revelations about his record that have emerged since he became Labour leader. These include him describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”; defending an anti-Semitic mural in East London; and a seeming willingness to associate with alleged anti-Semites, terrorists, and Holocaust-deniers. The party is currently being formally investigated by the UK’s anti-racism watchdog.

Trump also said Tuesday he’d “stay out of the election.”

“I don’t want to complicate it,” he said.

Too late. Britain’s opposition parties are relishing the visit by Trump, who is widely unpopular in the UK, and whose statements of support for Johnson and Britain’s departure from the European Union are seen as more harmful than helpful.

Trump repeated his support for Brexit and for Johnson on Tuesday.

“I think Boris is very capable and I think he’ll do a good job,” he said.

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