WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump said Friday he would apologize for retweeting a series of posts by a UK far-right group, saying he didn’t know who they were at the time.
In November the US President retweeted three inflammatory videos posted by the deputy leader of ultra-nationalist political group Britain First, purportedly showing Muslims assaulting people and, in one video, smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Speaking to British broadcaster ITV, Trump said he “knew nothing” about the group and didn’t want to be involved with them.
“It was done because I am a big believer in fighting radical Islam terror, this was a depiction of radical Islamic terror,” he added. “If you’re telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people I would certainly apologize if you would like me to do that.”
“I am the least racist person that anybody is going to meet. Certainly I wasn’t endorsing anybody,” Trump said.
The tweets caused an uproar in late 2017, and delight for Britain First and other far-right groups. They also sparked a rare rebuke from the British government, with a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May saying Trump was “wrong” to share the videos.
“British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents — decency, tolerance and respect,” the spokesman said.
A month after Trump’s retweet, the Britain First Twitter account was suspended in a purge of far-right accounts which breached the social media platform’s guidelines against posting “hateful and abusive” content.
Speaking to ITV’s Piers Morgan in Davos, Switzerland, Trump stressed his good relations with May, adding that she had been “doing a very good job.”
“We actually have a very good relationship although a lot of people think we don’t. I support her. I support a lot of what she does and a lot of what she says,” he said.
“And I support you militarily very much. I mean, we will come to your defense if anything should happen, which hopefully will never happen. But I am a tremendous supporter of the UK.”
A proposed Trump visit to the UK in 2018 was apparently canceled earlier this month, though the White House denied it was due to the threat of protests. Asked by Morgan whether he cared if British people disagreed with his views, Trump said: “I don’t care. I don’t care. It’s just one of those things. I don’t say anything you know why? Cause I don’t care.”
He added that “the real me is somebody that loves Britain” and that he sees it as a special place with special people.
Trump also hailed his strong bond with May on Thursday, when the pair held a bilateral meeting in Davos on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum.
Asked about the state visit, both May and Trump affirmed the parameters of the trip were still under discussion. Downing Street later said the pair concluded their meeting by “asking officials to work together on finalising the details of a visit by the President to the UK later this year.”
The full ITV interview will air in Britain on Sunday.