White House

Sarah Sanders won’t say if Trump really thinks ‘Democrats hate Jewish people’

In rare briefing, press secretary merely says president has ‘laid out clearly his position’

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did nothing Monday to walk back President Trump reportedly saying he thinks "Democrats hate Jewish people." (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday opted against walking back President Donald Trump’s contention that congressional Democrats are an “anti-Jewish party.”

Trump on Friday told reporters that recent controversial remarks about the influence of Jewish donors on politicians by freshman Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent comments show “the Democrats have become an anti-Israel party” and an “anti-Jewish party.”

During a weekend fundraiser at his resort in Florida, Axios reported the president was even more blunt, saying flatly he believes “Democrats hate Jewish people.”

During her first press briefing in 42 days, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the president’s weekend comment several times. At no point did she tell reporters that her boss does not really believe that.

At one point, NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson gave Sanders an opportunity to merely reply yes or no. She chose not to, instead saying reporters should ask Democrats if they do indeed harbor hatred of Jewish people and Israel.

But the chief White House spokeswoman’s response did reiterate Trump’s stance.

“The president has … laid out clearly his position on this matter,” Sanders said. “Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that.

“That's a question, frankly, I think you should ask Democrats what their position is since they’re unwilling to call this what it is and call it out by name and take actual action against members who’ve done things like this,” she added, referring to a House-passed anti-hate resolution made necessary in Democratic leaders’ minds following Omar’s comments. (It did not, however, mention her by name. And, other than criticizing her in public and private reprimands, the freshman member has not been punished.)

Since Trump’s first remarks about Democrats and Jewish people on Friday, some Democrats have pushed back.

“That is obviously false,” Alabama Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell said on CNN shortly after Trump spoke. “It is important that we lay down a marker that hate in all of its forms are unacceptable and un-American.”

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