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Trump Is Asked About Rising Anti-Semitism in U.S., He Responds by Boasting About Election Victory

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During Wednesday’s press conference, President Trump was asked about a rise in anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism across the U.S. An Israeli reporter asked, “What do you say to those among the Jewish community in the states and in Israel and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?” Trump responded by bragging about his election victory.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, during Wednesday’s news conference, President Trump was asked by an Israeli journalist about the rise in anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism across the U.S. Trump responded by boasting about his election victory.

REPORTER: Mr. President, since your election campaign, and even after your victory, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic—anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. And I wonder what do you say to those among the Jewish community in the States and in Israel, and maybe around the world, who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had: 306 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221. But then they said, “There’s no way to 270.” And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there. I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on, because a lot of bad things have been taking place over a long period of time. I think one of the reasons I won the election is we have a very, very divided nation. Very divided. And hopefully I’ll be able to do something about that. And I—you know, it’s something that was very important to me. As far as people, Jewish people, so many friends, a daughter, who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law and three beautiful grandchildren—I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening. And you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. OK? Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: “A lot of love,” said President Donald Trump. Well, this is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responding to the question, as well.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I’ve known President Trump for many years. And to allude to him or to his people, his team, some of whom I’ve known for many years, too—can I reveal, Jared, how long we’ve known you? Well, he was never small. He was always big. He was always tall. But I—I’ve known the president, and I’ve known his family and his team, for a long time. And there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest.

AMY GOODMAN: After the news conference, the Anti-Defamation League tweeted, “Troubling that @POTUS failed to condemn real issue of anti-Semitism in US today.” Glenn Greenwald, your response?

GLENN GREENWALD: You know, I was on your show during the campaign, I think back in March or April, as it looked increasingly likely that Trump was going to be the nominee. And I remember saying at the time that I thought one of the most dangerous parts of the Trump rise and a Trump victory would not necessarily be on the policy level, where there are functional checks on what he can do, as we saw with the courts unanimously striking down his Muslim ban, but that what was more dangerous, potentially, were the factions inside the United States that he was emboldening and galvanizing and empowering—namely, racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic factions that have been more or less muted and almost embarrassed to be out in public, who now feel as though they’ve been given license to express some of the worst sentiments that human beings are capable of creating.

And so, whether or not people inside the White House, like Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller or others, are overt racists or just trivialize and play with those themes in order to gain advantage, I continue to think that that is probably one of the greatest dangers, if not the greatest danger, that he is emboldening that kind of hatred and stoking it and encouraging these resentments among people and targeting the most vulnerable groups, which, in history, is a really dangerous thing to do. And I think you see in his answer, filled with clichés about how he has a Jewish son-in-law and daughter and grandchildren and how he’s going to produce love, this complete kind of contempt for the notion that this is a serious concern and that the kind of rhetoric that he and his closest advisers have embraced really does bring with it the serious danger of unleashing these kind of forces. He’s just in denial about that fact.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to ask now about Yemen. You’ve written recently on the attack by U.S. commandos on a Yemeni village last month that left 25 civilians and one U.S. soldier dead. Among those killed was Anwar al-Awlaki’s daughter Nawar. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports the January 28th assault killed nine children under the age of 13, with five other children wounded. So, Glenn, let’s—

AMY GOODMAN: And also, we just have this latest news that just came out from AP that the main figure killed in last month’s U.S. raid in Yemen targeting al-Qaeda was a tribal leader who was—who was allied with the U.S.- and Saudi-backed president and had been enlisted to fight Yemen’s Shiite rebels.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Right. And so, among those people critical of the raid, in which so many were killed, including civilians, was Arizona Republican Senator John McCain.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: When you lose a $75 million airplane, and, more importantly, American lives are—a life is lost, and wounded, I don’t believe that you can call it a success.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer lashed out at Senator McCain and journalists for criticizing President Trump’s decision to order the raid.

PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: It’s absolutely a success. And I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens. He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission. And anybody who would suggest otherwise doesn’t fully appreciate how successful that mission was, what the information that they were able to retrieve was and how that will help prevent future terrorist attacks.

KRISTEN WELKER: But even Senator John McCain—

PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: I understand that. I think my statement is very clear on that, Kristen. I think anybody who undermines the success of that rage [sic] owes an apology and a disservice to the life of Chief Owens.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Spicer’s comments came as the United Nations appealed for $2.1 billion in emergency aid to Yemen. The U.N. warns 12 million people face the threat of famine brought on by a U.S.-supported, Saudi-led war and naval blockade.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Glenn Greenwald, who’s written extensively on all these issues in The Intercept. We’re going to go to a music break and then hopefully get his response.

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Glenn Greenwald: Trump Seems to Be Committed to Escalating Violence in Yemen

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