Pennsylvania AG: Trump called wave of anti-Semitic attacks 'reprehensible,' but says they're sometimes done in 'the reverse'

Asked about a wave of recent anti-Semitic attacks, President Donald Trump told a group of state attorneys general on Tuesday that attacks are sometimes carried out in "the reverse" in order "to make people — or to make others — look bad," according to Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who was present at the meeting.

"He just said, 'Sometimes it's the reverse, to make people — or to make others — look bad,' and he used the word 'reverse' I would say two or three times in his comments," Shapiro said, according to BuzzFeed. "He did say at the top that it was reprehensible."

Shapiro said the comments "didn't make a whole lot of sense to me."

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Pennsylvania Jewish cemetery vandalized
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Pennsylvania Jewish cemetery vandalized
Melanie Steinhardt comforts Becca Richman at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks at fallen tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Rabbis Shawn Zevit (L) and Adam Zeff speak at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks at fallen tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Rabbi Adam Zeff walks through tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Max Shandler walks through tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
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A Pennsylvania reporter tweeted that Shapiro also said Trump assured him he would address the recent threats and acts of vandalism aimed at Jewish community centers and cemeteries during his major speech on Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.

The Democratic National Committee responded to Trump's reported remarks shortly after, strongly condemning what it considered to be Trump's "questioning" the "legitimacy of JCC threats."

"For millennia, Jews have not only endured unthinkable violence, but the subsequent denial of that violence," DNC spokesman Eric Walker said in a statement. "For the president of the United States to insinuate that threats to Jewish community centers are illegitimate is truly beyond the pale."

Trump has been asked several times in recent weeks about an increase in anti-Semitic threats and acts of vandalism, including during his press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump initially did not strongly rebuke the threats, but he denounced the anti-Semitic acts during a recent visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer also added in the Monday press briefing that Trump strongly denounced anti-Semitic attacks after the latest acts of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery.

Early in his presidency, Trump caused a firestorm when his staff did not mention Jews in the White House's official Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. The administration subsequently doubled down on in defense of the statement.

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