Trump says Catholic students ‘treated unfairly’ after encounter at National Mall

In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 image made from video provided by the Survival Media Agency, a teenager wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, center left, stands in front of an elderly Native American singing and playing a drum in Washington. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington in Kentucky is looking into this and other videos that show youths, possibly from the diocese's all-male Covington Catholic High School, mocking Native Americans at a rally in Washington.

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In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 image made from video provided by the Survival Media Agency, a teenager wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, center left, stands in front of an elderly Native American singing and playing a drum in Washington. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington in Kentucky is looking into this and other videos that show youths, possibly from the diocese's all-male Covington Catholic High School, mocking Native Americans at a rally in Washington.

President Donald Trump weighed in on the controversy that flared up in Washington over the weekend between a group of teenagers from a Catholic school in Kentucky and a Native American veteran at the Lincoln Memorial.

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Trump took to Twitter on Monday night to bash the media for treating the raucous teens, who were decked out in “Make America Great Again” gear, “unfairly.”

“Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements (sic) proving out to be false - smeared by media,” Trump tweeted.

“New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American,” he posted.

Initial media reports slammed the students for what appeared to be their disrespect for Native American veteran Nathan Phillips, who was attending the Indigenous Peoples March before encountering the teens. The predominantly white group of teens had just had a run-in with a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, once considered a terrorist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann later said members of the Israelites were hurling insults at them.

Phillips, an Omaha elder and well-known activist, moved in between the two groups while chanting and playing a drum.

In video of the incident, the Catholic students appeared to be jeering at Phillips, and Sandmann was seen on camera having an apparent standoff with the elder.

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By Sunday, Covington Catholic High School had apologized for the incident and said it was investigating.

Sandmann also released a statement Sunday, saying the students weren't to blame and did nothing wrong.

The boys were in Washington to attend an anti-abortion rally.

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