And to hear White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tell it, it’s just an unhappy coincidence.
“The president routinely congratulates people who officially get the Republican nomination for Congress,” McEnany said Wednesday when pressed. “So he does that as a matter of course. He hasn’t done a deep dive into the statements by these two particular women. I don’t know if he’s even seen that, but he supports the Muslim community.”
Two parts of this strain credulity.
The first is the idea that this is just Trump “routinely” congratulating Republicans.
Trump does congratulate many Republicans when they win primaries. But over the past eight days, eight states have held congressional primaries — Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming — and more than two dozen non-incumbent Republicans have been nominated. Trump has not congratulated them all “as a matter of course,” nor has he even congratulated the vast majority of them. In fact, he has congratulated just four of them on Twitter. And half of those four were Greene and Loomer.
Trump also reserved unusual praise for those two, even among their relatively limited company.
By contrast, Trump tweeted congratulations to Loomer on Tuesday night — even saying she has “a great chance,” despite running in a district he lost by 20 points and that the GOP isn’t targeting in 2020 — and then retweeted three other tweets playing up her victory.
Here’s the tweet Trump promoted:
McEnany’s comments suggest, inexplicably, that Trump was somehow continually unaware or unapprised of this backlash when he retweeted Greene’s congratulations for Loomer.
Trump’s praise for Greene was also unusual, relative to other candidates he’s backed this month. Last week he pitched Greene as a “future Republican Star” — a rare plaudit for Trump — and said she’s “strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”
Being a “star” and “strong on everything” would certainly seem to entail, well, everything. Yet McEnany suggests Trump might have tweeted such a thing without a thorough examination of what Greene had actually said.
It’s perhaps understandable that a politician would endorse a candidate from his own party while belying his true familiarity with their credentials. But it’s difficult to divorce all of this from Trump’s own past commentary on Muslims.
He launched his political career on the racist birther conspiracy and even suggested that former president Barack Obama’s birth certificate might reveal that “he’s a Muslim.” And that wasn’t the only time he suggested Obama was a secret Muslim. During the 2016 campaign, he proposed a full ban on Muslim immigration. He criticized a Muslim Democratic National Convention speaker and Gold Star parent for supposedly not allowing his wife to speak. As president, he banned travel from several majority-Muslim countries. He promoted unverified, anti-Muslim videos from a fringe group in Great Britain.
In other words, the idea that it would be a coincidence that he promoted anti-Muslim or even just conspiracy theorist candidates unwittingly — more forcefully and more frequently than other, less-controversial GOP candidates who won primaries on the same dates — doesn’t really square with his track record.