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Who at Trump's campaign copied, modified, and tweeted neo-Nazi propaganda?

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

On Saturday, July 2nd, someone with access to Donald Trump's Twitter account tweeted an attack on Hillary Clinton containing anti-semitic symbolism. The original tweet was corrected, then deleted more than two hours later, without any explanation from the Trump campaign. It's been more than a day since the tweet was posted, and nobody from Trump's camp has commented on the tweet — except for former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was fired in June and then inexplicably hired by CNN. "That's the mainstream media trying to attack Donald Trump for something that isn't there," Lewandowski said today on CNN's State of the Union, also calling the backlash "political correctness run amok."

But Lewandowski seems to have no idea what's "there," since (a) he was fired, and (b) he seems clueless about the source of the image. A report today from Mic revealed two possible original sources of the image, and it appears not to have been an original work of Trump's campaign. The image was posted on 8chan's /pol/ ("politically incorrect") board a week before it was tweeted by Trump, and appeared earlier on the account of a Twitter user who regularly posts racist, nationalist, and anti-semitic messages. The image was one of the least anti-semitic messages in the 8chan thread, which featured several remarks about a global Jewish conspiracy. Both images contained the watermark "@fishbonehead1," referring to the Twitter account that appears to have released the image originally. That watermark was removed in the composite image tweeted from Trump's account.

The situation as it stands demands obvious but unanswered questions: who at the Trump campaign sourced the image, who modified it, who approved it, who tweeted it, and who knew about it?

Who knew about it, and who approved it?

Lewandowski's defense — that the symbol looks like a sheriff's badge — is already gaining popularity among Trump apologists. (Trump's supporters on Reddit can't currently agree if the issue is more about political correctness, media bias, or whether the Trump campaign's removal of the original image suggests he's being controlled by Jewish interests) Of course, the suggestion that the image of a Star of David atop a pile of money emblazoned with the words "corrupt" is not anti-semitic symbolism is as false as it is dumb; the symbolism is obvious to everyone except those who are unfamiliar with anti-Jewish propaganda, or those who are lying about it. Arguing otherwise is like saying the Nazi swastika isn't a symbol of the Third Reich because it's also an ancient religious symbol — it's just nonsense that erases context in service of ass-covering.

So there are two possibilities here: someone in Trump's campaign really didn't recognize the symbolism in the image they lifted, or they knew about it and posted it deliberately. The first case would show reckless incompetence in Trump's campaign, while the second would reveal malevolence. It's far from the first time both traits have been associated with Trump and his shady business empire. Nonetheless, Trump continues to sell himself as a superior businessman who would replace leaders in government he has repeatedly called "stupid" and "incompetent." But so far, Trump and his campaign staff have been the bannermen for incompetence.

Trump's campaign has been littered with gaffes and blunders

Trump's campaign has been littered with gaffes and blunders. Like the time Trump mistakenly identified the Orlando shooter as foreign-born because, Bloomberg reported, "staffers had accidentally uploaded the wrong version of the speech into the teleprompter." Or like in June, Adage reported, when Trump's first fundraising email suffered a 60 percent spam rate because of "rookie mistakes." Or even when Trump's campaign tried to rectify yesterday's Star of David tweet by simply covering the symbol with a circle that didn't even hide the points of the star underneath.

Trump has mocked rival Hillary Clinton in the past for employing "a staff of 823 people." According to the Associated Press, Trump only has around 30 paid staff on the ground around the country. Somewhere in-between those numbers is the amount of people you need to prevent a candidate from tweeting neo-Nazi propaganda.