Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said after a meeting Tuesday with President Donald Trump the president called recent threats against Jewish centers and schools across the country "reprehensible," but added they might be intended to cause others to look bad.
Shapiro, a Democrat, was among a group of state attorneys general meeting Tuesday with Trump ahead of the president's joint address to Congress.
Shapiro told reporters afterward he brought up the bomb threats and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries during the meeting, and Trump said he would address them in his speech to Congress.
"I'd like him to say we'll have zero tolerance policy for hate crimes like this – that it's cowardice when people hide behind technology which makes it unclear where they're calling from," Shapiro told the Jewish Exponent.
Trump called the anti-Semitic actions "reprehensible," Shapiro said, but did not elaborate on what he intended to say in his speech.
"He just said, 'Sometimes it's the reverse, to make people — or to make others — look bad,'" Shapiro said. "He used the word 'reverse' I would say two to three times in his comments. I really don't know what he means, or why he said that."
The Anti-Defamation League called for a better explanation from the president.
"We are astonished by what the president reportedly said," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in a statement. "It is incumbent upon the White House to immediately clarify these remarks. In light of the ongoing attacks on the Jewish community, it is also incumbent upon the president to lay out in his speech tonight his plans for what the federal government will do to address this rash of anti-Semitic incidents."
Philadelphia was among the cities receiving the recent spate of bomb threats, and a Jewish cemetery in that city was vandalized over the weekend.
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