A White House intern pictured making a hand gesture linked to the alt-right in a group photograph with President Donald Trump claimed Friday he was simply making the OK sign in emulation of the president.
DailyMail.com revealed the photo of Jack Breuer, 23, posing with the president and departing White House interns in November, making a sign which far-right groups have used to symbolize ‘white power’.
It is the same sign that white nationalist Richard Spencer gave on the steps of the Trump International Hotel on election night and that right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos posed with in front of the White House.
But in a statement made on Friday, Breuer told the Daily Caller that he was ‘foolish’ for making the gesture, saying that he had Jewish heritage and therefore wouldn’t be associated with ‘racist white power organizations’.
Breuer – who declined to comment to DailyMail.com before we published the photograph on Thursday – told the Daily Caller: ‘In some of our intern pictures, I emulated the OK sign the President sometimes makes. That was foolish. I should have listened more closely to the Commander-in-Chief and given the thumbs up.’
Not OK: Former White House intern Jack Breuer posed with what a fellow intern described as gesture of ‘white power’ in November. Other interns are using their left hands to give their thumbs-up, with him standing out by using his right hand
Spot the difference: Breuer claimed he was simply emulating the president’s OK sign. The ‘white power’ symbolism is predicated on the three fingers being consciously stretched out to make the ‘W’ – and Trump usually has his three fingers bent
How WP works: This is how the gesture used by Breuer gets interpreted as showing support for ‘white power’
The hand gesture was made by white nationalist Richard Spencer on the steps of the Trump International Hotel on election night last November
Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos also flashed the ‘white nationalist’ sign when he posed in front of the White House wearing Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ hat
The OK hand signal has gained popularity as it mimics one of Trump’s favorite signs. The president regularly uses the OK sign when making speeches, however he does not generally stretch his three fingers out to form the ‘W.’
Breuer continued: ‘I’m proud of my Jewish heritage and strongly reject the hateful views associated with racist white power organizations. I would never make common cause with them.’
Breuer graduated from Emory University in Atlanta this year and attended school at Trinity Lutheran School in Burr Ridge, Illinois. He appears to be an active member of the Lutheran church associated with the school.
The former intern admitted he bucked orders – personally given by the president – to give a thumbs-up in the picture that was taken in the East Room last month.
While the other hundred or so interns smiled and followed Trump’s command, Breuer, a dentist’s son, held up the OK sign.
The gesture was also seen at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August – the same day an alleged Nazi sympathizer accelerated his car into anti-protesters, killing one and injuring several others.
All those surrounding Breuer on the right side of the picture are using their left hands to give their thumbs-up, with him standing out by using his right hand.
The gesture – which only makes sense if made with the right hand, although there are examples of people making it with their left hand – is said to depict the letter ‘W’ with the outstretched middle, ring and little fingers, and a ‘P’ with the circle made by the thumb and forefinger stretching down to the wrist. Together ‘WP’ stands for White Power.
There is debate over whether it genuinely is a ‘white power’ symbol or has been used by provocateurs such as Yiannopoulos to mock those on the left.
The Anti Defamation League earlier this year said it was not a symbol for hate.
…a variety of people – mostly from the far right – have used the ‘okay’ hand gesture to signify their allegiance to right-wing causes or movements while simultaneously trolling people on the left, attempting to elicit a reaction.
Mark Pitcavage, Anti Defamation League
But Mark Pitcavage, a senior researcher at the ADL’s Center on Extremism told DailyMail.com in a statement Friday that it was intended to provoke those on the left and had been used by white supremacists.
He said: ‘Over the past year, following a prank attempt originating on the website 4chan last February, a variety of people – mostly from the far right – have used the ‘okay’ hand gesture to signify their allegiance to right-wing causes or movements while simultaneously trolling people on the left, attempting to elicit a reaction.
‘Some of the people using the gesture in this fashion have been open white supremacists, especially from the alt right segment of the white supremacist movement, but other people using the gesture include adherents of the so-called alt lite.
‘Alt lite adherents are an offshoot of the alt right, typically disdaining the explicit white supremacy of the alt right while still embracing its other hateful attitudes towards women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Muslims, and the left. Some other people on the right, such as Breitbart supporters, might also employ the gesture.
‘It is important to acknowledge that the ‘okay’ hand gesture is one of the most common hand gestures in the United States, that most employment of that gesture is entirely innocuous, and that no racist or extremist implications should be read into its use unless the context of its use provides additional evidence to support such a finding.’
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Breuer’s controversial stand was only spotted when other interns were mailed the picture from the White House earlier this month, just in time for Christmas.
‘Context is everything,’ one fellow intern told DailyMail.com. ‘Jack is pictured with President Trump, one of the most controversial leaders we’ve had.
‘It is a distinct symbol known in alt-right circles and what makes it worse is that he is doing it in the East Room just below the portrait of George Washington.’
The intern said Breuer’s placement in the picture would not have been Breuer’s decision because all the interns were marched in one-by-one and carefully positioned by height to improve the aesthetics of the photograph.
They then waited for nearly 90 minutes before the president arrived.
Breuer (pictured), who is in his early 20s, worked for Stephen Miller, the president’s senior advisor for four months starting in September. A fellow intern said: ‘Jack’s a good kid and is probably doing it as a joke. Some people do consider it a joke because it is the OK sign’
A protester flashes the ‘white power sign’ – or what he thinks is the white power sign – as he joined hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the ‘alt-right’ in Charlottesville, Virginia, in mid August, before a ‘Nazi sympathizer’ accelerated his car into anti-protesters and killed one. In theory the sign only works if made with the right hand but some white nationalists appear to use it on either hand
The cartoon character Pepe the Frog (pictured), a meme among the alt-right has also used the signal. The gesture only works if made with the right hand and is said to depict the letter ‘W’ and a ‘P’. Together ‘WP’ stands for White Power
The fellow intern added: ‘When President Trump arrived he spoke for a while about how beautiful we all are — and even mentioned some of the interns being fired.
‘He joked for a bit then asked us all to do his signature thumbs up pose then went on his way.’
The president’s son, Eric, was also in the room, although he did not pose in the picture.
‘Jack’s a good kid and is probably doing it as a joke,’ added the intern who requested anonymity. ‘Some people do consider it a joke because it is the OK sign.’
Breuer worked for Stephen Miller, the president’s senior advisor for policy for four months starting in September, according to his LinkedIn page.
Miller himself has been attacked for having allegedly racist views, with Essence Magazine pointing to a letter he wrote to a paper in Santa Monica, California, in which he attacked Spanish speakers, the LGBT community and native Americans, while Mother Jones reported that he had close ties to Richard Spencer.
The sign has gained popularity among the so-called alt-right. Writers Jim Hoft and Lucien Wintrich of the extremist Gateway Pundit posed at the podium of the White House Briefing Room making the sign — although Wintrich used his left hand, destroying its significance.
The cartoon character Pepe the Frog, a meme among the alt-right has also used the signal.
However the Anti Defamation League — which lists Pepe as racist — says the OK sign is a hoax and should not be considered a signal of the white supremacy.
The ADL says the sign started as a hoax on the Internet discussion board 4chan where a user posted a message saying ‘we must flood Twitter and other social media websites…claiming that the OK hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy.’
He then added: ‘Leftists have dug so deep down into their lunacy,’ wrote the poster, ‘We must force [them] to dig more, until the rest of society ain’t going anywhere near that s***.’