Chelsea Clinton, Josh Groban, George Takei and more big names are voicing their outrage over the recent New Yorker report that President Trump once joked that Vice President Mike Pence “wants to hang” all gay people.
The New Yorker story published Monday cited two anonymous sources who recalled Trump “needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality.”
According to the sources, when the subject of gay rights came up during a meeting with an unnamed legal scholar, the president allegedly motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!”
The vice president’s spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, said in a statement to The Indianapolis Star that the New Yorker story generally contains “untrue and offensive” claims.
“Articles like this are why the American people have lost so much faith in the press,” Farah said. “The New Yorker piece is filled with unsubstantiated, unsourced claims that are untrue and offensive.”
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Politico in a statement, “From start to finish the article relied on fiction rather than facts.”
“The president has the highest level of respect for the Vice President, and for his deeply held faith,” she continued. “The suggestion that he would make such outrageous remarks is offensive and untrue. The anecdote was meant to divide, not unite and is completely false.”
The New Yorker told Politico that it stands by its reporting.
“The Vice-President’s press office declined to participate in this story for months, after multiple requests for interviews, comment, and fact-checking,” a New Yorker spokesperson said in a statement. “We heard from the press office only after the piece had closed, late Thursday. In the course of fact-checking this piece, we talked to more than sixty people to confirm the reporting contained therein, including senior White House officials, a senior member of the Vice-President’s office, the RGA, Rep. Elijah Cummings, and multiple people who were in the room when President Trump joked that Vice-President Pence ‘wants to hang’ gay people. We stand by the story.”
Many on Twitter criticized Trump’s alleged “joke,” calling it “evil” and an impeachable offense.
Comedian Billy Eichner tweeted: “The President of the United States saying that our Vice President would love to hang all gay people. Evil pieces of s–t.”
Singer Josh Groban linked to a New Yorker tweet highlighting Trump’s joke and commented: “What the f–k.”
Pence has a long history of fighting gay rights. While he was governor of Indiana, he signed a religious freedom law that critics said could worsen discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. After facing overwhelming backlash, he signed an amendment to the law intended to protect gays and lesbians.
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Pence, who has described himself as a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” has also said gay couples signaled “societal collapse,” opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and rejected the Obama administration directive on transgender bathrooms, TIME reported.