President Donald Trump sent out a barrage of retweets on Monday morning, supporting the statements of conservatives who are critical of leftist movements and former President Barack Obama.
Trump forwarded a tweet by Dinesh D’Souza that claimed the Washington Post “finally” admitted that violence from the left exists.
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) August 28, 2017
D’Souza was referring to a protest at UC Berkeley in which peaceful activists gathered against a smaller number of white supremacists. The event turned violent, however, as 100 agitators claiming to be from the Antifa movement stormed in. Although the altercation ended with the arrest of 13 individuals, the larger gathering against neo-Nazis drew in 7,000 peaceful protesters, a point D’Souza ignores.
Trump likely retweeted D’Souza to emphasize his point that “many sides” were responsible for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, at a white supremacist rally that turned violent earlier this month, an assertion that has been challenged given that much of the violence stemmed from far-right white supremacists. In the most infamous example, a neo-Nazi drove his vehicle into a large crowd of protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others who came to speak out against bigotry.
D’Souza also misses the opportunity to acknowledge that the Post article he cites reports that violence originated from a “pepper-spray-wielding Trump supporter,” who was pushed down with homemade shields from Antifa organizers after he began targeting protesters. Five people in total reported being attacked — a considerably smaller amount of those who were victims than what occurred in Charlottesville.
The second tweet that Trump forwarded involved a question of comparing Trump’s pardons with those of former President Barack Obama’s. Conservative Columnist Katie Pavlich suggested that Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio paled in comparison to the pardons that Obama made.
Responding to a tweet from Ben Rhodes, a former foreign policy adviser under Obama, Pavlich wrote:
Your boss pardoned a traitor who gave U.S. enemies state secrets, he also pardoned a terrorist who killed Americans. Spare us the lecture. https://t.co/90jZcPXYqx
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) August 27, 2017
However, there are glaring inaccuracies with what Pavlich contends. Pavlich is referring to Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera, two individuals who received commutations, not pardons, from President Obama. They also served several years behind bars: Manning was imprisoned for seven years, while Lopez Rivera served 35 years, and both were given commuted sentences due to the fact that they were sentenced for longer periods of time than others with similar convictions.
Arpaio, meanwhile, was granted a full pardon by Trump, and will serve no time behind bars despite being convicted of violating the civil rights of Latino citizens in his jurisdiction.
These two tweets were retweeted out by the president early Monday morning, during a time when millions of Americans in southeastern Texas and the surrounding area were dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Recognizing that the attention of the president was in the wrong place, another former Obama adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, tweeted out the following:
Trump's laser-like focus on what's happening in Houston is truly impressive pic.twitter.com/IdzITpca7b
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 28, 2017
Pfeiffer sent out a screenshot image of the Pavlich and D’Souza retweets from the president, sarcastically noting that “Trump’s laser-like focus on what’s happening in Houston is truly impressive.”
It isn’t necessary to read between the lines here: Pfeiffer is clearly calling out the president for focusing on political grandstanding while a natural disaster crisis looms.