State Dept. warned White House about possible increased threats after anti-Muslim tweets
After President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslims videos on Wednesday, multiple State Department officials said the department communicated to the White House that there was concern that protests could happen at US embassies.
Officials feared that the tweets, which appeared to depict Muslims engaged in different acts of violence, would spark a reprise of the violent protests at US embassies in the Middle East which are already on high security alert. Protests erupted in September 2012 following the publication of an anti-Muslim video on the internet.
Embassies were on alert throughout the day, although no incidents have been reported thus far, the State Department officials said.
A White House official confirmed that the White House was alerted to those concerns by the State Department. The official said that there is still discussion in the White House about whether the administration should issue a stronger statement addressing concerns that the tweets might raise tensions with the Muslim world, but this official cautioned that it is not clear that any action will be taken.
“It didn’t manifest in anything actionable, but it was a big concern,” one State Department official said. “We saw in Cairo and other places that simply posting something on the internet, even if nothing was intended by it, could have real consequences.”
Trump retweeted three videos sent from far-right British activist Jayda Fransen that claimed to depict Muslims assaulting people and desecrating a statue of the Virgin Mary.
The tweets prompted condemnation both among US and British officials, including Prime Minister Theresa May.
The White House refused to say if it had vetted the videos and confirmed their authenticity before the President tweeted them out to his more than 43 million followers.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the President’s decision to tweet the video, saying that he was highlighting a real “threat.”
“Whether it is a real video, the threat is real,” Sanders told reporters Wednesday morning. “That is what the President is talking about, that is what the President is focused on is dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it.”