Mike Huckabee tweets photo of apparent gang he says is Nancy Pelosi's 'campaign committee'

PHOTO: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asserts that the debt created by the Republican tax cut enacted six months ago was a step toward compromising Social Security and Medicare, during a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 20, 2018.PlayJ. Scott Applewhite/AP, FILE
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Former Arkansas Gov. and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee posted a photo of apparent gang members on Twitter, saying they are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's "campaign committee."

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The image, tweeted Saturday morning, shows five tattooed men using what appears to be hand signs for MS-13, an international criminal gang that was formed by El Salvadoran refugees in Los Angeles during the 1980s and has since spread throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America.

"Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House," Huckabee tweeted alongside the photo.

Huckabee, who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 and 2016, received widespread criticism for the tweet, which was also liked by more than 15,000 Twitter users and retweeted over 6,400 times as of Saturday afternoon.

President Trump has repeatedly referred to MS-13 as a reason for tightening border security. And Huckabee tweeted the image amid a raging debate between Democrats and Republicans over immigration.

Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff for Pelosi, shifted some of the blame to the president as well.

"Trump and his surrogates will continue to repeat blatantly false attacks as long as the media continues to take the bait and print them," he said in a statement.

Outrage erupted across the nation after the controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy was put into effect last month by Trump's administration. The policy, enacted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in early May, stated that everyone who tries to cross the southern border illegally would be criminally prosecuted, and that parents will be separated from their children as they await trial.

Trump, appearing to cave to immense political pressure, signed an executive order on Wednesday ending the practice of forcibly separating immigrant families at the border with Mexico. But thousands of children have already been taken away from their detained parents.