Trump dodges question about how his administration will combat anti-Semitism

President Trump declined to answer a question Thursday about how his administration plans to combat a rise in anti-Semitism, and instead told the Jewish reporter asking it to sit down and called it “not a fair question.”

During a press conference at the White House that lasted for more than an hour, a Jewish reporter expressed concern about growing anti-Semitism and said, “What we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it.” The reporter then referenced a spate of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers across the U.S. over the last month or so, and then was interrupted by the president.

“He said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question. And it’s not. It’s not a simple question, not a fair question,” Mr. Trump said. “Okay, sit down. I understand the rest of your question. So here’s the story folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. The least racist person.”

“But let me tell you something, that I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me--and you heard the prime minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday--did you hear him? Bibi, he said, ‘I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time,’ and then he said, ‘Forget it.’ So you should take that, instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that. Just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is,” Mr. Trump said.

The reporter was not asking whether Mr. Trump was anti-Semitic, however, and he expressed frustration soon after that his question was misconstrued by the president.

This exchange came a day after a reporter asked the president at a press conference with the Israeli prime minister who asked what he would say to those in the Jewish community who believe and feel that the administration is playing with “xenophobia and racist tones” amid rising anti-Semitic incidents.

Instead of answering the question, Mr. Trump went on to talk about his Electoral College victory last November.

“Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had 316 electoral college votes,” he said. “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. There’s a lot of bad things that 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 was something that was very important to me,” he added.

He went on to point out that his son-in-law Jared Kushner is Jewish and his daughter Ivanka, Jared’s wife, converted to the religion.

“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.”

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.