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Update: Student Wearing MAGA Hat Standing Face-to-Face With Native American Veteran Releases Statement

"I was not intentionally making faces at the [protester]," said Nick Sandmann.

Screen shot of Instagram video by Kaya Taitano

UPDATE: Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 at 7 a.m.

Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School Junior who stands in front of Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe and a veteran, in a viral video that has sparked outrage, made a statement through a lawyer and spokesman on Sunday night.

Sandmann said the students decided to raise their voices to drown out the comments against them by four Black protesters who identify themselves as Hebrew Israelites. A video has been released of the incident.

"A student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group," Sandmann said in his statement. "The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school," he said.

Phillips walked up to the students and said he started drumming and singing a song to encourage unity trying to quell the argument.

"There was that moment when I realized I've put myself between beast and prey,'' Phillips told the Detroit Free Press. "These young men were beastly and these old Black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.''

But said at one point, he claims the teenagers started saying "Go back to the reservation'' and broke into chants of "Build that wall.'' He also questioned why chaperones did not get involved.

"I was scared," Phillips told CNN. "I don't like the word 'hate.' I don't like even saying it, but it was hate unbridled. It was like a storm."

Sandmann claims he was "not intentionally making faces at the [protester]. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation."

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington in Kentucky is currently investigating the incident.

ORIGINAL STORY Published Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019

Students wearing "Make America Great Again" hats, who attend Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, K.Y., were in Washington, D.C. on Friday for the anti-abortion March for Life rally. In a video, it appears that Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe and a veteran, was being mocked by the students at the Lincoln Memorial.

The incident occurred as the Indigenous Peoples March was ending. Videos showing their behavior went viral on social media on Saturday.

One of the students, standing less than a foot away, appears to be trying to intimidate Phillips by staring him down with a mocking smirk on his face. Phillips was in the midst of drumming and singing a song of unity:

Kaya Taitano, who shot the video, told CNN that MAGA hat-wearing-students and four Black teens, who'd been preaching about the Bible nearby, started yelling and calling each other names. That's why Phillips started drumming and singing a song to encourage unity trying to quell the argument.

President Trump, whom the students apparently idolize, posted a tweet last week to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who plans to run for president in the 2020 election.

Trump made fun of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre in response to a video Warren posted on Instagram.

Phillips, a Vietnam veteran who said he served between 1972 and 1976, is in tears as he explains in a video how the incident on Friday made him feel:

"I heard them saying, 'Build that wall, build that wall.' This in indigenous land. You know, we're not supposed to have walls here. We never did …"

He continued, "Before anybody else came here, we never had walls. We never had a prison. We always took care of our elders. We took care of our children. We always provided for them. We taught them right from wrong."

He said he wishes the young men who taunted him would use "that energy to make this country really great."

Robert "Bob" Rowe is the principal of Covington Catholic High School (email: browe@covcath.org).

An investigation is now taking place, and the MAGA teens could be expelled. The Diocese of Covington and the high school issued the following statement on Saturday:

"We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.

"The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.

"We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement."

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org demanding changes at the high school.

Many are saying on social media that the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students mimics how whites tried to intimidate Blacks during the civil rights movement:

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King's remarks are "abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse," tweeted Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wants to know why white nationalists and white supremacists are getting a bad rep.

"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" King asked in an interview with The New York Times published on Thursday. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"

The far-right lawmaker is at the forefront of supporting the Trump administration's anti-immigration policies and the push to end birthright citizenship. As a matter of fact, King credits himself with getting Trump onboard.

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King has previously, on the House floor, shown a model of a 12-foot border wall he had designed.

Thursday afternoon he released a statement on Twitter "clarify" his comments on white supremacy and white nationalism.

"I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I reject those labels and the evil ideology" represented by those terms. "I am simply a Nationalist," he wrote.

"I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish lives." Like the Founding Fathers, he wrote, "I am an advocate for Western Civilization's values."

But let's look at King's track record.

In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, consumers and employees pushed back against companies donating to King's campaign in November. He is known for his association with white nationalists, even retweeting a Nazi sympathizer.

(But residents of Iowa still re-elected him for another term.)

King endorsed, Faith Goldy, an openly white supremacist candidate for mayor of Toronto. He often praises far-right politicians and groups in other countries.

In September, during a European trip financed by From the Depths — a Holocaust memorial group — King actually met with members of a far-right Austrian party with historical ties to Nazis for an interview on their anti-Semitic propaganda website. The meeting was just a day after ending a five-day trip to Jewish and Holocaust historical sites in Poland, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

"In an interview with a website associated with the party, King declared that 'Western civilization is on the decline,' spoke of the replacement of white Europeans by immigrants and criticized Hungarian American financier George Soros, who has backed liberal groups around the world," according to The Washington Post.

In December 2017, King shared a story on Twitter written by the Voice of Europe and quoted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who said, "Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one."

King added to the tweet: "Diversity is not our strength."

Members of Congress are condemning his recent comments.

"Everything about white supremacy and white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-Calif.), said, in a statement. "Steve's language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society. The Declaration of Independence states that 'all men are created equal.' That is a fact. It is self-evident."

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted that King's remarks are "abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse."

"Dear Steve King (@SteveKingIA): FYI this is one reason you get bad search results when people type your name in Google," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), tweeted.

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REUTERS

UPDATE: Dec. 26, 2018 at 4:08 p.m.

In a visit that came hours after NBC News reported that President Trump was the first president since 2002 that did not visit wounded warriors or troops during Christmastime, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump met with troops stationed in Iraq, traveling there "late Christmas night," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

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"Trump left behind a slate of troubles in Washington, including a partial government shutdown and an unsteady economy," according to CNN. "He's also faced criticism for a series of foreign policy decisions that have left his national security team at odds."

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