President Donald Trump told Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro that bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers may have been from “the reverse” to try to “make others look bad,” Shapiro said today.
When a reporter asked Shapiro if he took this to mean that Trump was implying his supporters were being framed, he responded that he can’t be sure what the president meant but that “he used the word ‘reverse’ I would say two to three times in his comments.”
“I really don’t know what he means,” Shapiro said, “and I don’t know why he said that.”
The new Pennsylvania attorney general, a Democrat, was among dozens of state attorneys general who met with Trump at the White House Tuesday. The meeting came just a day after a handful of Jewish Community Centers in the Philadelphia area were targeted by bomb threats and two days after a Jewish cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia was vandalized. The incidents were part of a string of anti-Semitic threats and actions across the country.
Shapiro said he asked Trump specifically about how state and federal law enforcement could collaborate to prevent further threats to the Jewish community. He said Trump responded saying that the acts were “reprehensible” and that he’d further address them tonight during a speech before a joint session of Congress.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told BuzzFeed News that they “are astonished by what the President reportedly said” with regard to the source of the JCC bomb threats and that “[i]t is incumbent upon the White House to immediately clarify these remarks.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also responded, telling a reporter: “That is an absurd and obscene statement.”
On Sunday, officials discovered that more than 500 tombstones at the Mt. Carmel cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia had been either toppled, damaged or destroyed. Police have not made an arrest.