Hours after a shooter burst into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people, President Donald Trump called on Americans to unify against hate. Yet, later in the night, back in the comfort of his own home, the commander in chief seemingly couldn’t help himself in amplifying a message from one of his most vitriolic supporters, known for peddling crazy conspiracy theories. “Very interesting!” wrote Trump as he retweeted a video interview with Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative commentator who has made a movie comparing Trump to Abraham Lincoln and who only months ago sparked a firestorm of criticism for retweeting an anti-Semitic hashtag. Earlier this year, Trump pardoned D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in 2014.
D’Souza has long been a controversial figure and has done such horrific things as mocking the survivors of the Parkland school shooting. But a month after he was pardoned, D’Souza found himself on the receiving end of lots of criticism after he retweeted a message that promoted his movie, Death of a Nation, that contained the hashtag #burntheJews. D’Souza said he didn’t see the hashtag and was “just trying to share the trailer on social media.” He also characterized the criticism he received as nothing short of “a smear attack designed to undermine my movie exposing the deep ties between the Left, racism & Nazism Left.”
Beyond that hashtag itself, D’Souza broadly also symbolizes how “the president, his family members and his allies roll out the red carpet for figures whose propagation of hateful myths once placed them beyond the pale of mainstream American discourse,” as the Washington Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker wrote in August.
Trump’s retweet on Saturday night was of an interview D’Souza gave to NRATV’s Dana Loesch. The outlet also seems significant considering Trump retweeted the message shortly after he scoffed at the suggestion that the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue had anything to do with gun control. He also suggested the massacre could have been avoided if there had been an armed guard at the temple.