White House won’t say if Trump thinks Democrats hate Jews

The White House on Monday defended President Trump’s assertion that the Democratic party has become “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish,” with press secretary Sarah Sanders sparring with reporters who challenged the president’s claim.

“The president has been an unwavering and committed ally to Israel and the Jewish people,” Sanders said at a press briefing, her first in more than a month. “And frankly the remarks that have been made by a number of Democrats and failed to be called out by Democrat leadership is frankly abhorrent and it’s sad and it’s something that should be called by name. It shouldn’t be put in a watered down resolution.”

Last week, the House overwhelmingly passed a broad resolution condemning hate, an expanded version of an earlier draft that focused on anti-Semitic implications in remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. The wording was changed to meet demands from the Congressional Black Caucus and other progressive groups that it cover all forms of bigotry.

“The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn Friday. “And I thought that vote was a disgrace.” Axios, quoting attendees at a Republican dinner at Mar-a-Lago, said Trump later summarized his view as: “The Democrats hate Jewish people.”

All nine of the Jews in the United States Senate are Democrats, and all but two of the 36 members of Congress. Jews overwhelmingly supported Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016.

Sanders drew a contrast between the Democratic response to Omar and how the Republican caucus treated Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa last year. “It should be done the way Republicans did it when Steve King made terrible remarks,” Sanders said. “We called him out by name. We stripped him of his committee memberships. And we’d like to see Democrats follow suit.”

29 PHOTOS
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar
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Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar
Democratic congressional candidate the Midterm elections, Ilhan Omar, speaks to a group of volunteers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 13, 2018. - Somali-American state legislator Ilhan Omar claimed victory in her primary in Minnesota in August, putting her on track to become one of the first female Muslim members of the US House of Representatives. (Photo by Kerem YUCEL / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEREM YUCEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Ilhan Omar, Democratic congressional candidate, poses for a selfie with a supporter and her son while campaigning in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 13, 2018. - Somali-American state legislator Ilhan Omar claimed victory in her primary in Minnesota in August, putting her on track to become one of the first female Muslim members of the US House of Representatives. (Photo by Kerem YUCEL / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEREM YUCEL/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2017, file photo, new State Rep. Ilhan Omar is interviewed in her office two days after the 2017 Legislature convened in St. Paul, Minn. Omar, already the first Somali-American to be elected to a state legislature, is jumping into a crowded race for a Minnesota congressional seat. Omar filed Tuesday, June 5, 2018, for the Minneapolis-area seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 file photo, State Rep. Ilhan Omar takes the oath of office as the 2017 legislature convened in St. Paul, Minn. Omar, a Muslim, is the nation's first Somali-American to be elected to a state legislature. Religion's role in politics and social policies is in the spotlight heading toward the midterm elections, yet relatively few Americans consider it crucial that a candidate be devoutly religious or share their religious beliefs, according to an AP-NORC national poll conducted Aug. 16-20, 2018. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, left, laughs while speaking with an attendee during the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party endorsement convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The DFL will endorse a primary candidate for the seat of Representative Keith Ellison, a democrat from Minnesota, as he runs for state attorney general. Photographer: Emilie Richardson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar speaks during the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party endorsement convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The DFL will endorse a primary candidate for the seat of Representative Keith Ellison, a democrat from Minnesota, as he runs for state attorney general. Photographer: Emilie Richardson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Ilhan Omar attends the premiere of 'Time For Ilhan' during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival at Cinepolis Chelsea on April 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
In this Aug. 16, 2018 photo, Democrat Ilhan Omar, the nation's first Somali-American legislator who won her party's congressional primary in the race, talks during an interview at Peace Coffee in Minneapolis. Just two years ago, the Minnesota Democrat became the first Somali-American elected to a state legislature. Now she's likely to become one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Amal Sabrie, Isra Hirsi, Ilhan Omar, Ilwad Hirsi, Ahmed Hirsi, Adnan Hirsi attend the premiere of 'Time For Ilhan' during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival at Cinepolis Chelsea on April 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Ilhan Omar, candidate for State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, arrives for her victory party on election night, November 8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar, a refugee from Somalia, is the first Somali-American Muslim woman to hold public office. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 07: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., attends a rally on the East Front of the Capitol with groups including United We Dream, calling on Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Thursday, February 7, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 13: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., attends a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled 'Venezuela at a Crossroads,' on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Elliott Abrams, U.S. special representative for Venezuela, testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., arrives for a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to respond to negative comments by President Trump that were directed at freshmen House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center responding to negative comments by President Trump that were directed at the freshmen House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center responding to negative comments by President Trump that were directed at the freshmen House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying if they're not happy in the United States "they can leave." (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) at Netroots Nation convention in Philadelphia, PA on July 13, 2019. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JULY 06: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar speaks on stage at 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)
WASHINGTON, USA - JUNE 26: U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar speaks during a demonstration held by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on one-year anniversary of Supreme Court's decision about US President Donald Trump's travel ban for Muslims in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, United States on June 26, 2019. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at a press conference on the No Shame at School Act on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The bill, which is sponsored by Omar, will ensure that no child is shamed or goes without eating a school lunch due to a lack of money. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 7: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., arrives for a Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health forum in Rayburn Building on Friday, June 7, 2019. Actress Taraji Henson, founder of the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, spoke about her struggle with depression. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at a press conference on the No Shame at School Act on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The bill, which is sponsored by Omar, will ensure that no child is shamed or goes without eating a school lunch due to a lack of money. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) listens to remarks during a congressional Iftar event at the U.S. Capitol May 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. Muslims around the world are observing the holy month with prayers, fasting from dawn to sunset and nightly feasts. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at the America Welcomes Event with a Statue Of Liberty Replica Shows Solidarity With Immigrants & Refugees at Union Station on May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MoveOn.org)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at the America Welcomes Event with a Statue Of Liberty Replica Shows Solidarity With Immigrants & Refugees at Union Station on May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MoveOn.org)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: The House Foreign Affairs' Committee's Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) questions witnesses during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, testified before the committee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 08: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Mika Brzezinski at the 2019 Town & Country Philanthropy Summit Sponsored By Northern Trust, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Pomellato, And 1 Hotels & Baccarat Hotels on May 08, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Town & Country)
UNITED STATES - MAY 16: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., attends a news conference at the House Triangle, on legislation to create special immigrant visas for Iraqi and Afghan wartime translators on Thursday, May 16, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 08: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ava DuVernay at the 2019 Town & Country Philanthropy Summit Sponsored By Northern Trust, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Pomellato, And 1 Hotels & Baccarat Hotels on May 08, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Town & Country)
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In January, King, a Republican from Iowa, was banned from committee assignments for the next two years after lamenting in an interview that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms. Trump, himself, did not condemn the remarks, as ABC’s Jon Karl pointed out to Sanders.

“The president, correct me if I’m wrong, has not condemned Steve King,” Karl said.

Sanders maintained that Trump has renounced King’s views, but in private. “I speak on behalf of the president on a number of topics and I’ve talked about that a number of times,” she said.

Later in the briefing, Sanders was asked by MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson whether Trump believes “Democrats hate Jews.”

Sanders refused to answer directly.

“The president has had and laid out clearly his position on this,” she said. “That’s a question frankly I think you should ask Democrats.”

“You’re not answering the question — is there a reason?” Jackson asked. “You didn’t say yes or no. Does he really believe hate Jews?”

“I think that’s a question you ought to ask the Democrats,” Sanders replied.

On Thursday night, the resolution condemning hate passed with the support of 234 Democrats and 173 Republicans. Twenty-three 23 Republicans voted no. King voted present.

29 PHOTOS
Rep. Steve King through the years
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Rep. Steve King through the years
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a Tea Party Town Hall meeting February 8, 2011 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The town hall meeting was held by the Tea Party Express and Tea Party HD to address issues Tea Party members were concerned over. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 19: Dutch politician Geert Wilders speaks with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 19, 2016. Photo by Peter W. Stevenson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JULY 18: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is interviewed on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena on first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 18, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: Joni Ernst, center, Iowa Republican Senate candidate, and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, talk in the Pork Tent at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Louie Gohmert(2ndL) (R-TX) and Rep. Steve King (R) R-IA listen while Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders speaks during a press conference about Islam on Capitol Hill April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders (L) and Rep. Louie Gohmert(R) R-TX listen while Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a press conference April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. Wilders was joined by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) to talk about Islam. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Steve King (R-IA) listen while Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders speaks during a press conference about Islam on Capitol Hill April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 27: Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor (R-IA), Left, Terry Branstad, Governor (R-IA), Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Kaufmann, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on stage at the 2nd annual Joni Ernst Roast and Ride event on August 27, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Trump joined a number of Iowa Republicans speaking to a crowd of supporters. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 27: Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor (R-IA), Left, Terry Branstad, Governor (R-IA), Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Kaufmann, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on stage at the 2nd annual Joni Ernst Roast and Ride event on August 27, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Trump joined a number of Iowa Republicans speaking to a crowd of supporters. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO JULY 20; Party Platform: Immigration and National Security. Policymakers discuss immigration, national security and the challenges facing Americas borders.-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)- Moderated by Philip Rucker, National Political Correspondent, The Washington Post via Getty Images. Washington Post RNC Convention Headquarters (Photo by Eric Hanson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, talks with reporters in the Capitol's Statuary Hall after President Obama's State of the Union address, January 12, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
NASHUA, NH - APRIL 17: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 17, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Summit brought together local and national Republicans and was attended by all the Republicans candidates as well as those eyeing a run for the nomination. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 9: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters following the House GOP caucus meeting on immigration on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speak to Fox News in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, as House leaders try to find a way to fund the government past midnight. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 03: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, center, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., conduct a rally on the east front lawn of the Capitol to call for the defunding of President Obama's executive action that grant's amnesty to illegal immigrants, December 3, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks with Vickie Gardner of Audubon, Iowa, at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 01: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks with the media after a meeting of the House Republican caucus in the Capitol to discuss an immigration bill, August 1, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MANCHESTER, NH - APRIL 12: U.S Representative Steve King (R-IO) Steve King speaks at the Freedom Summit at The Executive Court Banquet Facility April 12, 2014 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Freedom Summit held its inaugural event where national conservative leaders bring together grassroots activists on the eve of tax day. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) walks through the Capitol Building on October 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. The government has been shut down for 14 days. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Rep. Steve King (R-IA) sings the National Anthem during the DC March for Jobs in Upper Senate Park near Capitol Hill, on July 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Conservative activists and supporters rallied against the Senate's immigration legislation and the impact illegal immigration has on reduced wages and employment opportunities for some Americans. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during the DC March for Jobs in Upper Senate Park near Capitol Hill, on July 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Conservative activists and supporters rallied against the Senate's immigration legislation and the impact illegal immigration has on reduced wages and employment opportunities for some Americans. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks during the Black American Leadership Alliance's 'D.C. March for Jobs' rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington on Monday, July 15, 2013. The rally and march were held to call attention to the impact that illegal immigration has on wages, and lost employment opportunities for low-skilled Americans. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 16: Rep. Steve King, R-IA., during the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor, Md., on Saturday, March 16, 2013. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 2: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Dr. Rosalie Porter, chairwoman of ProEnglish, speak at a press conference on the Official English Act. It would establish English as the official language of the United States government and would require all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, after speaking to disappointed opponents of the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court's decided to uphold the law, voting 5-4. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 9: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES ? OCTOBER 7: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES �MARCH 31: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks to the crowd at the Tea Party Patriots' 'Continuing Revolution' rally at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, March 31, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC- Jan. 18: Jenny Beth Martin, of the Tea Party Patriots, U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Ken Hoagland, of Repeal It Now.org, during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on efforts to repeal the health care law. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
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CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Sanders whether imputing hatred of an entire religion to political opponents is “beneath” the office of presidency — and whether the American people should expect to hear more of it as Trump ramps up his reelection campaign.

Sanders refused to reply directly, but as she has done in the past when facing a question she doesn’t want to answer, attacked Democrats on an unrelated issue, in this case abortion.

“I think the real shame in all of this is that Democrats are perfectly capable of coming together and agreeing on the fact they are comfortable ripping babies straight from a mother’s womb or killing a baby after birth,” Sanders said. “But they have a hard time condemning the type of comments from congresswoman Omar.”

Acosta pushed back.

“Democrats don’t hate Jewish people. That’s just silly,” he said. “It’s not true.”

“I think they should call out their members by name,” Sanders replied.

_____

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