US President Donald Trump retweeted a video showing one of his supporters loudly shouting “white power”.
The supporter was among a group of people taking part in a pro-Trump rally at a retirement complex in Florida.
The footage showed supporters and opponents of the president hurling abuse and swearing at one another.
Trump has denied accusations that he is seeking to capitalise on racial tensions. His spokesman says he did not hear the “white power” comment.
In the tweet, which was later deleted, the president thanked “the great people of The Villages” – referring to the retirement community north-west of Orlando where the rally took place. “The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!,” he wrote.
The video included in the tweet showed a Trump supporter in a golf cart raising a clenched fist and shouting “white power”. He appeared to be responding to a protester calling him a racist and using profanities. Other anti-Trump protesters shouted “Nazi” and other accusations at the rally-goers.
Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the US Senate, said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that the video was “offensive” and called on the president to remove his tweet.
“There’s no question that he should not have retweeted it and he should just take it down,” Scott told the network.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president “did not hear the one statement made on the video” but saw “tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters”.
The US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, told CNN that “neither the president, his administration nor I would do anything to be supportive of white supremacy”.
President Trump has previously faced accusations of sharing or promoting racist content. In 2017 he retweeted three inflammatory videos from a British far-right group, prompting a rebuke from then UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
He was widely criticised in 2019 when he said in a tweet that four US congresswomen – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar – should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”. Three of the four congresswomen were born in the US and all four are US citizens.
In response to protests in recent weeks over the death of George Floyd, Trump warned on Twitter that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” – a phrase used by Miami’s confrontational police chief Walter Headley at the height of the civil rights movement in 1967.
The line prompted Twitter to restrict the president’s tweet on the basis that it broke the platform’s rules on glorifying violence.
And Trump has faced accusations of racism in recent weeks for repeatedly using the phrase “kung-flu” to describe the coronavirus. The White House has denied the president’s use of the term is racist.
“What the president does is point to the fact that the origin of the virus is China,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Meanwhile, a poll for CBS News suggests a majority of the US public agrees with the Black Lives Matter movement and believes protests will lead to police reforms.
Six in 10 Americans disapprove of President Trump’s handling of recent protests, according to the poll, while more than half say he has failed to show enough understanding about demonstrators’ concerns.