The manipulated photo retweeted by Trump showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Muslim garb with the caption: “The corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue #NancyPelosiFakeNews.” Trump, a Republican, had previously faulted Democrats for criticizing his administration’s targeted killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, but his use of Muslim imagery as part of that effort drew pushback from Muslim American advocates.
Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of the Muslim American group Emgage Action — named for its mission to engage Muslim Americans — also criticized Trump’s decision to amplify the doctored photo of Pelosi and Schumer. “There’s no place for it, irrespective of political differences,” he said in an interview.
Schumer tweeted his own pushback to Trump, asking: “How low can you go?”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham defended Trump’s retweet of the image, telling Fox News on Monday that the tweet was intended to show Democrats “have been parroting Iranian talking points, and almost taking the side of terrorists and those who were out to kill the Americans.”
Democrats have raised questions about the Trump administration’s rationale for ordering the Soleimani killing, warning about the resulting heightened tensions with Iran. But no Democrats have praised Soleimani, and Pelosi herself described him last week as a “terrible person” who “did bad things."
Associated Press writer Amanda Seitz in New York contributed to this report.