Donald Trump blasted the media on Monday, blaming it for creating a controversy over a tweet of Hillary Clinton that some critics claim was anti-Semitic.
“Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff's Star, or plain star!” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee tweeted.
Over the weekend, Trump sent out a tweet that featured Clinton and what appeared to be a Star of David layered on top of $100 bills – an image that had also appeared on a white supremacist website.
Trump’s account on Saturday tweeted the so-called “meme” – then deleted it and replaced it substituting a circle for the star symbol that resembles the Jewish Star of David.
The change came after a strong social media backlash about the tweet and whether the image had anti-Semitic implications.
The meme first appears to have hit the Internet on June 15, when it was posted by the Twitter user @FishBoneHead1. The account, which described itself as belonging to a comedian, regularly tweeted out anti-Clinton and right-leaning messages and images.
The image also appeared on June 22, on /pol/, an active neo-Nazi Internet message board that features many anti-Semitic posts.
It remains unclear where Trump’s campaign obtained the image.
Trump put out a statement late Monday, firing back at Clinton criticism saying it was just a "basic star". He added that any connection try to show anti-Semitism is "ridiculous."
"These false attacks by Hillary Clinton trying to link the Star of David with a basic star, often used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behavior, showing an inscription that says “Crooked Hillary is the most corrupt candidate ever” with anti-Semitism is ridiculous," Trump said. "Clinton, through her surrogates, is just trying to divert attention from the dishonest behavior of herself and her husband. The real questions are, why was Bill Clinton meeting secretly with the US Attorney General on her case and where are the 33,000 missing emails and all of the other information missing from her case - Why are there so many lies?"
The @FishBoneHead1 account was deleted amid the uproar on Sunday afternoon. The person who operated the feed did not respond to a request for comment before it was deleted.
The post itself was deleted from the /pol/ message board, but its existence was confirmed by The Associated Press through an internet search engine that combs internet archives.
The image’s appearance on /pol/ and @FishBoneHead1′s twitter feed was first reported by the website mic.com.
Trump, who is running for president as a Republican, has repeatedly said that he would remain a staunch defender of Israel and last week shot down a question from a town hall attendee who questioned the U.S.’s defense of the Jewish state. His daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism and is raising her children Jewish.
Trump has been criticized in the past for repeatedly re-tweeting posts from white supremacists’ accounts and failing to immediately denounce the support of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. Trump has a loyal following on white supremacist message boards and has been endorsed by several prominent white nationalist leaders who have credited him for invigorating their cause. Among them are William Johnson, chair of the American Freedom Party, which ran pro-Trump robo-calls during the GOP primary.
Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, dismissed the controversy in an interview with CNN Sunday, accusing the media of trying to create something out of nothing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.