A video showing a likeness of President Donald Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents has prompted calls for the White House to denounce the violence after it was reportedly shown at a meeting of Trump supporters at his Miami resort.
The New York Times obtained the footage that it says was shown at a three-day event held by a pro-Trump group called American Priority for the president’s supporters at the Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida last week.
The Times reported that president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and his former spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, were among scheduled speakers.
The paper says the video shows a series of pro-Trump memes, the most violent of which shows Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man who opens fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of Trump’s political opponents and logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies.
The faces of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was often critical of Trump, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the president’s potential 2020 rivals, are featured in the clip, along with that of former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ran against Trump in 2016.
The Times reported that it appeared to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”
A video matching the same description can be seen on YouTube and was uploaded in September 2018.
The Times said it obtained the video from an unnamed person who attended the conference and took a video of the clip on his phone.
In an emailed statement to NBC News Monday, a spokesperson for American Priority said, “It has come to our attention that an unauthorized video was shown in a side room at #AMPFest19,” referring to the hashtag for the event.
“This video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned by the #AMPFest19 organizers,” the spokesperson said. “The organizers of #AMPFest19 were not even aware of the video until they were contacted by the New York Times.”
The spokesperson said they found it “shocking” that the Times report didn’t mention any of the “sanctioned events” including a panel conversation “literally condemning political violence while claiming to be upset over a meme that was not sanctioned, shown on stage, or approved.”
“#AMPFest19 always has and always will condemn political violence,” the statement added.
A spokesman for Trump’s campaign told NBC News that they were not aware of the video.
“That video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence,” said communications director, Tim Murtaugh.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted Monday that President Trump “has not yet seen the video” and “will see it shortly.”
Grisham added that “based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”
Trump has consistently used criticism of the media to rile up his supporters, often referring to journalists as “enemy of the people” and discrediting critical reports about him and his administration as “fake news.”
Trump regularly criticizes media outlets in his tweets, and in 2018, his ongoing feud with CNN’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, boiled over with the president verbally berating the journalist before the White House ultimately suspended his press access.
CNN later filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for revoking Acosta’s press credentials, that mentioned a number of derogatory tweets and comments made by Trump about CNN. The suit noted that Trump retweeted “a video depicting him tackling and punching a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his face, adding the comments ‘#FraudNewsCNN’ and ‘#FNN.'”
In the wake of the New York Times report Sunday, CNN released a statement saying, “Sadly, this is not the first time that supports of the president have promoted violence against media in a video they apparently find entertaining – but it is by far and away the worst. The images depicted are vile and horrific.”
The video has prompted a strong response from other organizations and news makers.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) released a statement Sunday, saying it was “horrified” by the video.
“All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the president’s political opponents,” WHCA’s President Jonathan Karl said in the statement.
Former Texas Rep. and Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke tweeted about the video, saying: “At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church. Last year, a Trump supporter sent bombs to CNN — and a shooter entered a church yesterday. This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed.”
On Saturday, two people were shot and injured when a gunman opened fire during a wedding ceremony at a church in Pelham, New Hampshire.
“Every mother and father in America should watch video,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted. “Play it all the way to end. Know that this is the re-election message of your president. And then ask yourself – how you sit your kids down and tell them you want this person to lead us.”
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