British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office chastised President Trump for sharing videos first posted by a right-wing British politician that show alleged attacks by Muslims.
Trump, without comment, retweeted the videos early Wednesday from the Twitter feed of Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right British political party.
“Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people,” a spokesman for May said in a statement Wednesday. “British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect."
The spokesman added: "It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended the president on Wednesday, saying he wants to “promote strong borders and strong national security.”
“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about,” Sanders said, when asked about the authenticity of the videos.
The first video has the caption: “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” The video shows a dark-haired young man approaching a blond young man on crutches. The two speak at the beginning of the video, and the dark-haired man puts his arm around the other. Seconds later, the dark-haired man backs up and appears to start punching and kicking the other person -- though it's unclear whether the attack was real or staged.
The second retweeted video shows a man in traditional Muslim garb, speaking in Arabic. He is holding a statue of the Virgin Mary and eventually slams it to the ground. It shatters. The caption on the video reads: “VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”
The final video Trump retweeted is the most graphic, captioned “VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” The video shows a group of dark-skinned males on a roof, with the sounds of gunshots, and shrieks in the background. The group pushes two men off the roof, as a woman can be heard screaming while they fall.
The president faced an immediate social media backlash for sharing the videos, whose authenticity was not clear.
"Good morning, Mr President @realDonaldTrump - what the hell are you doing retweeting a bunch of unverified videos by Britain First, a bunch of disgustingly racist far-right extremists? Please STOP this madness & undo your retweets," British journalist Piers Morgan tweeted.
But he received praise from Fransen's Twitter account.
“THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, DONALD TRUMP, HAS RETWEETED THREE OF DEPUTY LEADER JAYDA FRANSEN'S TWITTER VIDEOS! DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA! OCS @JaydaBF@realDonaldTrump,” Fransen's account tweeted.
Fransen has been charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment over leaflets and videos that were distributed during a criminal trial earlier this year. She has separately been charged with using "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior" over a speech she made in Northern Ireland in August. She is currently on bail.
She was convicted last year of religiously aggravated harassment and fined after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.
Minutes after sharing the videos, the U.S. president pivoted to his war against "fake news" by sharing a tweet from his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, who mocked CNN for boycotting the annual White House Christmas party.
"Christmas comes early! Finally, good news from @CNN!" Sanders tweeted, sharing a link to a Politico article saying the media outlet planned not to attend the party.
The president quoted the tweet and said: "Great, and we should boycott Fake News CNN. Dealing with them is a total waste of time!"
Trump also seized on the firing of NBC's "Today" show host Matt Lauer:
"Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for 'inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.' But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!"
Fox News' Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.