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We asked every senator for their reaction to Trump’s anti-Muslim retweets

President Donald Trump shared three blatantly anti-Muslim tweets on Wednesday morning from the leader of a far-right, extremist British group called Britain First. The tweets, which contain videos that claim to show Muslims committing violent acts, drew sharp backlash from U.S. civil rights groups and government leaders. British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the tweets.

The PBS NewsHour on Wednesday reached out to every U.S. senator for their reactions to these Trump retweets.

So far, 50 senators have responded. Of these responses, 29 Democrats, four Republicans and the Senate’s lone independent criticized the tweets, two Democrats and 11 Republicans said they haven’t seen them, and three declined to comment.

Republican Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and James Lankford of Oklahoma all spoke out against the retweets. Flake called them “highly inappropriate,” and Graham said they legitimized the far-right Britain First group. “You don’t want to take a fringe group and elevate their content.”

Democratic senators had even harsher words for the retweets. Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto said she was “deeply repulsed that the president of the United States feels compelled to fan the flames of Islamophobia.” Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey called it “a dangerous precedent … to legitimize groups that promote violence, racism and xenophobia.”

And from California Sen. Kamala Harris: “When the president tweets anti-Muslim conspiracy theories that incite hate and embolden bigotry, we all must speak out. This is not who we are as a country.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the tweets on Wednesday, saying the president’s goal is to “promote strong borders and strong national security.”

We will update this list as senators continue to comment.


Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. , Comment from Senator

“I haven’t seen it.”


Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis , Issued statement

“What the President did was wrong. Everyone, including him, would be better off if he gave up Twitter.”


John Barrasso, R-Wyo. , Comment from Senator

“I haven’t seen them.”


Michael Bennet, D-Colo. , Tweet

“.@POTUS’ retweets of an extremist hate group are irresponsible and disgraceful. Hate groups should be condemned, not promoted.”


Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. , Tweet

“Amplifying a far-right hatemonger’s propaganda isn’t just beneath the presidency – it’s beneath humanity. My Republican colleagues have a moral responsibility to condemn the President’s absolutely abhorrent tweets. Silence in the face of his disgraceful behavior speaks volumes.”


Roy Blunt, R – Mo. , Comment from Senator

“I would want to look at them before I said anything.”


Cory Booker, D-N.J. , Tweet

“We must all speak out against the president’s anti-Muslim rhetoric that serves to incite hate and division within our country.”


John Boozman, R-Ark.

Waiting for response.


Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Waiting for response.


Richard Burr, R-N.C. , Comment from Senator

“You need to talk to the president. I don’t comment on his tweets. You guys are the only ones that are consumed with his tweets.” NewsHour: Have you seen the tweets? “You keep writing articles about them so I don’t think he’s going to stop as long as you keep doing that.”


Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Waiting for response.


Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

Waiting for response.


Ben Cardin, D-Md. , Tweet

“Almost 11 months in, it’s still unfathomable that @POTUS repeatedly gives attention and political space to right-wing extremists here at home and abroad. His re-tweets today, like most days, are beneath the dignity of his office and do not represent our country or its values.”


Tom Carper, D-Del.

Waiting for response.


Bob Casey, D-Pa. , Issued statement

“These retweets were inappropriate. The President should think more carefully and consider the impacts of these kinds of retweets before doing so.”


Bill Cassidy, R-La. , Comment from Senator

“I just didn’t see them and this is the first I’ve heard of them.”


Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Waiting for response.


Susan Collins, R-Maine , Comment from Senator

“Do I think it’s helpful that he raises these conspiracy theories or puts out a tweet of an anti-Muslim video that turns out to not even be accurate? No, I don’t and I haven’t hesitated to criticize the president when he does.”


Christopher Coons, D-Del.

Waiting for response.


Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Waiting for response.


John Cornyn, R-Texas

Waiting for response.


Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. , Issued statement

“I am deeply repulsed that the president of the United States feels compelled to fan the flames of Islamophobia. This type of behavior is a threat to our Muslim communities and should never be tolerated. Contrary to President Trump’s belief, governing by fear and hate is never going to make up for his lack of major legislative accomplishments. And I know communities all across America embrace our diversity and stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We are better than this.”


Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

Waiting for response.


Mike Crapo, R-Idaho

Waiting for response.


Ted Cruz, R-Texas

Waiting for response.


Steve Daines, R-Mont.

Waiting for response.


Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

Waiting for response.


Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. , Issued statement

“Words matter—full stop. And when you serve as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest nation on the face of the earth, your words matter that much more. Spewing lies and hate speech is beneath the dignity of the presidency and downright dangerous, as is giving far-right extremists like Jayda Fransen (who has been found guilty of hate crimes) a platform and legitimizing their disturbing views—no matter what country they’re from. America and its people have long been a beacon of liberty and equality. How can we remain so when hateful, biased and ignorant speech is promoted by the President?”


Dick Durbin, D-Ill. , Issued statement

“It is repulsive and wrong for the president of the United States to share these inflammatory videos, particularly at a time when hate crimes against American Muslims are already on the rise. This bigotry must be condemned.”


Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. , Press office

No comment.


Joni Ernst, R-Iowa

Waiting for response.


Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. , Issued statement

“I very much agree with the comments of General [James] Clapper, who said the president’s tweets could incite anti-Muslim violence. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the president needs to stop tweeting. He’s making a mockery of the presidency. I don’t understand why the president injects himself into virtually every dispute that comes down the road. All this does is produce more division within America. Instead of uniting the country, he continues to divide it.”


Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Waiting for response.


Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. , Twitter

“This was highly inappropriate”


Al Franken, D-Minn.

Waiting for response.


Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Waiting for response.


Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. , Issued statement

“There is simply no excuse for irresponsibly spreading this kind of hate. Period.”


Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. , Reported by the Guardian

“I thought that was particularly unhelpful.” Reporter: In what way? Graham: “I think, one, it legitimizes this group in England. She’s being prosecuted for religious harassment. You don’t want to take a fringe group and elevate its content. I think it also is not the message we need to be sending right now when we need Muslim allies”


Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa

Waiting for response.


Kamala Harris, D-Calif. , Twitter

“When the President tweets anti-Muslim conspiracy theories that incite hate and embolden bigotry, we all must speak out. This is not who we are as a country.”


Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.

Waiting for response.


Orrin Hatch, R-Utah

Waiting for response.


Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. , Twitter

“President Trump spreading anti-Muslim propaganda not only emboldens hate but sends the wrong message of who we are as a country.”


Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. , Issued statement

“If the president wants to have a productive conversation about national security, as he claims, he’s not doing himself or our country any favors by sharing offensive tweets from a group known for its hateful rhetoric.”


Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Waiting for response.


Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii , Twitter

“I wish I was surprised that @realDonaldTrump shared fake videos made by a white supremacist to incite hatred and violence against Muslims, but it’s the behavior we’ve come to expect from our President. I’m not surprised, but we can never allow this to become normal.”


John Hoeven, R-N.D. , Comment from Senator

“I didn’t see it, I haven’t seen it yet.”


James Inhofe, R-Okla. , Comment from Senator

“I didn’t hear it … I’ve not always agreed with his tweets. I would like to see someone look at the language before they go out.”


Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Waiting for response.


Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

Waiting for response.


Tim Kaine, D-Va. , Comment from Senator

“Americans want their President to unite people. This is yet another example of President Trump trying to divide us by spreading hate.”


John Kennedy, R-La. , Comment from Senator

NewsHour: “Any reaction?” Kennedy: “I don’t. I’ve been in Judiciary all day. I haven’t– I don’t read tweets very often. I haven’t seen them.” NewsHour: “You’re not aware of them at all? Kennedy: “No.”


Angus King, I-Maine , Comment on CNN

“There are 1.9 billion Muslims in the world. Do we really want to alienate them and push this away and make this a war between the west and the Muslim community? The answer is absolutely not. This tweet yesterday actually, in my view, was wildly counter to our national security interests.”


Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Waiting for response.


James Lankford, R-Okla. , Issued statement

“Senator Lankford believes that religious freedom is a fundamental human right of all people and is a constitutionally guaranteed right in this nation. In America, anyone can practice the faith of their choice, including Islam, or choose no faith at all. Our enemy is not all Muslim people; it is the thugs who seek to kill and terrorize the innocent. Senator Lankford believes we should not project the actions of a few on an entire faith or community.”


Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. , Twitter

“A disgraceful new low, even for this #POTUS. When a president retweets inflammatory, unverified videos from anti-Muslim bigots, he amplifies & validates their hateful propaganda. Will he ever stop trafficking in fact-free fear mongering? Too much to ask?”


Mike Lee, R -Utah

Waiting for response.


Joe Manchin, D-W. Va.

Waiting for response.


Ed Markey, D-Mass. , Issued statement

“The President’s twitter addiction is only outmatched by his penchant for conspiracy theories. It is a dangerous precedent for the Commander in Chief to legitimize groups that promote violence, racism and xenophobia. Someone needs to tell the President to step away from his smartphone and get serious about the challenges in our Country. ”


John McCain, R-Ariz.

Waiting for response.


Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

Waiting for response.


Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Waiting for response.


Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

Waiting for response.


Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. , Issued statement

“The President is peddling racism and stoking hatred. He is dividing rather than uniting Americans and is playing into the hands of ISIS.”


Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

Waiting for response.


Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark.

Waiting for response.


Chris Murphy, D-Conn. , Issued statement

“President Trump spreading hate against Muslims and sharing extremist hate propaganda is disgusting. It’s contrary to our values and it makes our fight against terrorism much, much harder. There’s just no excuse for his behavior.”


Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Waiting for response.


Bill Nelson, D – Fla.

Waiting for response.


Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Waiting for response.


David Perdue, R-Ga.

Waiting for response.


Gary Peters, D-Mich. , Issued statement

“It is unacceptable for the President to give a platform to dangerous and hateful rhetoric and groups. I’m proud to represent strong Muslim and Arab American communities in Michigan, and I stand with them against this kind of bigotry and hate.”


Rob Portman, R-Ohio , Press office

Declined to comment.


Jack Reed, D-R.I. , Issued statement

“The violence depicted in these videos is horrific, but it is abhorrent that President Trump would choose to deliberately fan the flames of hatred and religious bigotry.”


James Risch, R-Idaho , Press office

No comment


Pat Roberts, R-Kan. , Comment from Senator

“I have no idea. I don’t keep up with his tweets. I’m not responsible for that.”


Mike Rounds, R – S.D. , Comment from Senator

“I heard that there had been a tweet, that’s all I know about it. I didn’t see it or anything else.”


Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Waiting for response.


Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. , Issued statement

“I do not make it a habit to respond to every ugly or absurd tweet from President Trump. If I did that, I’d have little time for anything else. But even for Trump, todays retweet of a series of offensive videos from a British right-wing anti-Muslim fringe group reaches a new low. The goal of these videos is clear: to promote fear and hatred of Muslims, and to incite hostility toward a minority group. I know that Trump is not much into history or the U.S Constitution, but he ought to know that millions of men and women have struggled, fought and died to defend our democracy and the religious freedom that our Constitution guarantees. This Friday I will be visiting Louisville, Kentucky, the city where Muhammad Ali, one of the most popular athletes of the 20th Century, who also happened to be an American Muslim, was born and raised. While there I plan on visiting the Muhammad Ali Center, a museum that focuses not only on Ali’s career as a boxer and athlete, but also on his legacy as an activist and spokesman for the Muslim faith.”


Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

Waiting for response.


Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii

Waiting for response.


Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. , Comment from Senator

Has not seen the tweets.


Tim Scott, R-S.C.

Waiting for response.


Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

Waiting for response.


Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

Waiting for response.


Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. , Issued statement

“President Trump’s retweet of hateful and inaccurate videos about Muslims is wrong and undermines our relationship with one of our most critical allies. The impact of his actions is felt in our homes, schools and businesses. In Michigan, those being hurt are our friends, our teachers, our family members, our coworkers, our doctors and our neighbors. These actions do not represent our American values.”


Luther Strange, R-Ala.

Waiting for response.


Dan Sullivan, R – Ark.

Waiting for response.


Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Waiting for response.


John Thune, R-S.D.

Waiting for response.


Thom Tillis, R-N.C. , Comment from Senator

Has not seen the tweets.


Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

Waiting for response.


Tom Udall, D-N.M. , Twitter

“This needs to be called out: the President of the United States is retweeting fascist, anti-Muslim propaganda. This behavior is beyond irresponsible and exceedingly dangerous, even for this president.”


Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. , Twitter

“Day by day we are reminded that there is NO LIMIT to how low this President will go. And equally outrageous is Republican silence as Trump fundamentally undermines respect for America and the presidency—weakening our friends and emboldening our enemies around the world.”


Mark Warner, D-Va. , Issued statement

“Senator Warner agrees with Teresa May and the scores of elected officials, Democrats and Republicans, who have condemned the President for spreading these hateful, inaccurate, and dangerous videos.”


Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Issued statement

“Once again, President Trump is spreading hatred and fear. These anti-Muslim propaganda videos are downright repulsive, and the president only divides our country further by sharing them. This would be shameful behavior from anyone, and it is certainly unacceptable coming from the president of the United States.”


Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. , Issued statement

“Yet again, the President has perpetuated lies and elevated hateful, bigoted voices. By spreading messages such as these, he betrays the example America sets to the world. He must stop.”


Roger Wicker, R-Miss. , Comment from Senator

“I missed them.”


Ron Wyden, D-Ore. , Comment from Senator

“I haven’t seen those specific tweets, but based on what I’ve heard, this isn’t the first instance, it doesn’t appear it will be the last. And it seems to me to be contrary to the very values espoused by the founding fathers.”


Todd Young, R-Ind.

Waiting for response.


Additional reporting by: Daniel Cooney, Ryan Connelly Holmes, Saher Khan, Jenny Marder and Laura Santhanam

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