(JTA) — President Donald Trump said Jews “stick together” and are “only in it for themselves” following conversations with Jewish lawmakers, The Washington Post quoted senior White House officials as saying.
The quotes are in a lengthy article quoting anonymous current and former officials describing how Trump treated race in private conversations. The Post did not add further context to those two partial quotes except to say that by “sticking together,” Trump appeared to mean that the loyalty of Jews to one another exceeds all others.
Many of the quoted broadsides echo remarks Trump has said in public, perhaps in slightly less blunt terms. In the run-up to the 2016 election, he told Republican Jewish donors, “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians.”
The story posted Wednesday adds detail to the protests among his staff sparked by his equivocations following the neo-Nazi march in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly.
Trump on the day of the protest, in which a white supremacist killed one protester and injured 20 others, said there was violence from “many sides,” although the violence overwhelmingly came from the side of the white supremacists.
When Gary Cohn, then the White House economic adviser, confronted Trump about the remarks and threatened to resign, Trump denied saying “many sides.”
“Not only did you say it, you continued to double down on it,” Cohn, who is Jewish, reportedly told Trump. “And if you want, I’ll get the transcripts.”
Trump relented and two days after the march unequivocally condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists — although he subsequently equivocated again, describing “fine people” on both sides of the events.
A White House spokeswoman disputed the characterizations to the Post.
“Donald Trump’s record as a private citizen and as president has been one of fighting for inclusion and advocating for the equal treatment of all,” she said. PJC