The far-right extremist group whose anti-Muslim propaganda videos were shared by President Donald Trump Wednesday was caught deleting pro-Vladimir Putin posts from their website and Facebook page, BuzzFeed News reports.
Trump retweeted three dubious and unverified anti-Muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen, a deputy leader of the far-right Britain First party who has been convicted and charged with a number of hate crimes.
The unverified videos were titled, “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”; “VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”; and “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”
But along with pushing anti-Muslim propaganda, the Britain First party appears to have as much a soft spot for Putin as the president.
According to BuzzFeed News, the party deleted dozens of pro-Putin posts at some point this year.
The posts included titles like “GO PUTIN! Russian president’s popularity on rise in Czech Republic!” and “VIDEO: Putin backs our Brexit”.
The website posts are typically shared on their Facebook page, which has over 1.5 million followers.
According to a Wayback Machine archive, the site had 75 posts tagged “Vladimir Putin.”
The posts called Putin a “no-nonsense leader” who was helping to update laws “to reflect the country’s traditional values.”
One post noted that “Vladimir Putin’s popularity in the Czech Republic has surged and could now be higher than that of Angela Merkel” because he was “getting tough on terror.”
Another post claimed that Putin supported “our Brexit” because “no-one wants to feed weak economies.”
BuzzFeed points out that, “The UK parliament and Electoral Commission are currently conducting investigations on the role of Russian bots and misinformation in the EU Referendum vote.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters after the tweets that it does not matter if the videos were even real.
“I’m not talking about the nature of the video. I think you’re focusing on the wrong thing. The threat is real, and that’s what the President is talking about,” she said. “His goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security.”
But there is something wrong. And British Prime Minister Theresa May said as much as she condemned Trump’s tweets.
“It is wrong for the president to have done this,” May’s office said in a statement. “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.”
Labour Party MP David Lammy called for the country to scrap Trump’s planned visit to the UK.
“Trump sharing Britain First. Let that sink in,” he tweeted. “The President of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted. He is no ally or friend of ours.”
“It has all kinds of ripple effects,” warned former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “both in terms of perhaps inciting or encouraging anti-Muslim violence, and as well causes, I think, our friends and allies around the world to wonder about the judgment of the president of the United States.”