US President Donald Trump retweeted a video showing one of his supporters shouting out loud “white power”.
The supporter was among a group of people attending a pro-Trump rally at a retirement complex in Florida.
The footage showed supporters and opponents of the president launching abuses and cursing each other.
Trump has denied accusations that he is trying to capitalize on racial tensions. His spokesman says he has not heard the “white power” comment.
In the tweet, which was later deleted, the president thanked “the great people of the Villages” – referring to the retirement community northwest of Orlando, where the rally took place. “The radical left does nothing The Democrats will fall in the fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon !!!” he wrote.
The video included in the tweet showed a Trump supporter in a golf cart raising his fist and shouting “white power”. He appeared to be responding to a protester calling him a racist and using profanity. Other anti-Trump protesters shouted “Nazis” and other accusations against the protesters.
Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the U.S. Senate, said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that the video was “offensive” and asked the president to remove his tweet.
“There is no doubt that he shouldn’t have retweeted and should withdraw it,” Scott told the network.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president “did not hear the only statement made on the video” but saw “tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters”.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN that “neither the president, nor his government, nor I would do anything to support white supremacy”.
President Trump has already faced accusations of sharing or promoting racist content. In 2017, he retweeted three inflammatory videos from a British far-right group, prompting a rebuke from then British Prime Minister Theresa May.
He was widely criticized in 2019 when he said in a tweet that four American congressmen – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar – should “go back and help repair the totally destroyed and crime-infested places they came from”. “Three of the four congressmen were born in the USA and the four are American citizens.
In response to protests in recent weeks over the death of George Floyd, Trump warned on Twitter that “when the looting begins, the shots begin” – a phrase used by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley at the height of the civil rights movement in 1967.
The line prompted Twitter to restrict the president’s tweet, claiming he broke the platform’s rules on glorifying violence.
And Trump has faced accusations of racism in recent weeks for repeatedly using the phrase “kung-flu” to describe the coronavirus. The White House has denied that the president’s use of the term is racist.
“What the president does is point to the fact that the source of the virus is China,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Meanwhile, a CBS News poll suggests that the majority of the US public agrees with the Black Lives Matter movement and believes that the protests will lead to police reforms.
Six out of ten Americans disapprove of the way President Trump has dealt with the recent protests, according to the survey, while more than half say he has not demonstrated sufficient understanding of the protesters’ concerns.