A disturbing profile from the AP confirms why Donald Trump’s extremist views are not changing: Bigotry, racism, violence and intolerance are defining features of Donald Trump’s campaign, inside and out.
The AP examined the social media postings of some 50 current and former Trump campaign staffers, finding that several expressed violent, derogatory, and racist views towards Latinos, Muslims, and African-Americans:
The AP examined the social media feeds of more than 50 current and former campaign employees who helped propel Trump through the primary elections. The campaign has employed a mix of veteran political operatives and outsiders. Most come across as dedicated, enthusiastic partisans, but at least seven expressed views that were overtly racially charged, supportive of violent actions or broadly hostile to Muslims.
A graphic designer for Trump’s advance team approvingly posted video of a black man eating fried chicken and criticizing fellow blacks for ignorance, irresponsibility and having too many children. A Trump field organizer in Virginia declared that Muslims were seeking to impose Sharia law in America and that “those who understand Islam for what it is are gearing up for the fight.”
Before being tapped as statewide director of coalitions, Craig Bachler of Bradenton, Florida, posted jokes in 2015 about Mexican accents superimposed over pictures of an overweight man wearing a sombrero. Bachler was named by the campaign as official staff in November, though there is no record he has been paid for his work. Bachler did not respond to a request for comment via Facebook or a message left at his office voicemail. After AP’s inquiries, Bachler blocked access to an AP reporter, and his Facebook account — which included a photo of Bachler with Trump — was scrubbed to remove the offensive post.
Teresa Unrue, a field organizer and graphic designer in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for Trump’s advance team, shared a video on her Facebook account July 11 — the week before the Republican National Convention — of a black man eating fried chicken while shaming fellow black people.
“Why are you mad about slavery?” the man asks. “Y’all weren’t no damn slaves.”
“Had me crack’n up!! Thank you!” Unrue wrote of the video. “Please share this with people.”
Some posts fixated on stories of black-on-white violence with claims that news about such crimes was being suppressed.
“How about this little white boy being murdered by a black man,” grassroots organizer Annie Marie Delgado of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, wrote in December 2014 post, one of a number highlighting crimes against white people before Trump declared his candidacy.
Delgado also shared a discredited, hoax photo of the State Department’s Kerry with Jane Fonda, and commented: “I say hang them!” She was paid $11,146 through April, according to campaign records.
Fear or dislike of Muslims was a recurring theme. Though Trump at one point proposed temporarily barring foreign Muslims from entering the country and scrutinizing the activities of mosques, he has sometimes distinguished Islamic extremists who pose a risk and those who don’t. “I love the Muslims,” Trump said in September, expressing willingness to appoint one to his Cabinet.
On Facebook, Mark Kevin Lloyd of Lynchburg, Virginia, who has been paid $36,000 as Trump’s field director in the state, shared a post June 30 calling Islam “a barbaric cult.” He shared a meme June 16, four days after the Orlando nightclub shooting by a heavily armed Muslim who professed allegiance to the Islamic State group. The meme said people should be forced to eat bacon before they can purchase firearms.
Other campaign staffers also singled out Muslims for special scrutiny.
Unrue shared the statement, “We need Islam control, not gun control.”
During her time with the campaign, Delgado deplored the appointment of a Muslim-American judge in New York.
“Step by step… this is how American culture will end,” she wrote Feb. 27, saying it was only reasonable to believe that the judge would implement Sharia law.
Delgado said in a telephone interview she stopped working for the campaign in April. She said she did not recall making some of the posts the AP asked her about and does not stand by others.
“If I read the whole thing, I probably wouldn’t have posted it,” she said of one post she shared, a short essay declaring that Muslims are inherently incapable of being good Americans.
Phillip Dann, a field organizer in Massachusetts who recently relocated to Florida, was paid $6,153 between January and March. He shared a meme mocking “Muslim sympathizers.” He also shared an article about Trump threatening to bring back waterboarding “or worse,” and added “where is the gasoline?” Dann told the AP in a phone interview he had no antipathy against Muslims in general.
Dann attributed inflammatory comments of other Trump staffers to the fact that the campaign had drawn on people inexperienced in politics. While he has been politically active for decades — originally as a leftist, he said — he described the field staff Trump acquired in the primary as unfamiliar with traditional campaign rules.
“We get hired because there was no one left,” Dann said. In a later email, he acknowledged some of his and other staff postings were “clearly over the top” — but said that criticism of the posts would amount to intimidation.
Scott Barrish, who earned $12,250 as Trump’s political director for the Tampa Bay, Florida, region, took his views beyond social media posts. In 2011, he drew local press coverage for writing to the head of the nonprofit Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group for Muslims in the U.S., saying he was wise to its plans to establish a totalitarian theocracy in the United states.
“This is us vs. you,” wrote Barrish. “In the great words of the late President Ronald Reagan, ‘I win, you lose!'”
Separately, Barrish tweeted in 2013 that he hoped America wasn’t headed for civil war, but “if our freedoms must be defended against a tyrannical government, so be it.”