Julían Castro defends Joaquin's Trump donor tweet in Iowa

DES MOINES, IOWA – In a sit-down interview with KSAT-12 news anchor Steve Spriester on the campaign trail in Iowa Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Julían Castro defended his twin brother Joaquin Castro, who has faced criticism from conservatives for a tweet he posted naming 44 major local donors of President Donald Trump.

Congressman Joaquin Castro posted a tweet on Monday that included an image listing the names and employer of people in San Antonio who have given Trump’s campaign the maximum amount in 2019. The information is public record and accessible online through the Federal Elections Commission.

“Joaquin did that, as he said, as a lament that in our city (San Antonio), that is more than 60 percent Hispanic, you have companies — whether it's Bill Miller (BBQ) or others — that have built their whole fortune off of the Hispanic community, that have a lot of Hispanic employees [and] that are putting that money into the pocket of a politician, Donald Trump, that is putting ads on Facebook calling it an invasion and fostering hate and division toward the Hispanic community,” the former San Antonio mayor said on Friday in an exclusive interview with KSAT.

READ MORE: Joaquin Castro doubles down on Trump donor tweet, Gov. Abbott sides with Bill Miller BBQ

Among the donors named in Joaquin Castro’s tweet was Balous Miller, the owner of San Antonio-based Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, who has given $14,000 to President Trump’s campaign and political action committee in 2019, campaign finance records show.

The tweet was sent days after a white 21-year-old man from Dallas-area admitted to driving 10 hours to El Paso and killing 22 people in an act of domestic terrorism that has shaken the Hispanic community and nation, according to an affidavit. The gunman told police that he was targeting Mexicans, the affidavit said. Seven Mexican nationals were among the dead. The shooter posted a manifesto minutes before the shooting, railing against “the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” police said.

Joaquin Castro has since commented on similarities between the shooter’s manifesto and  rhetoric used by President Trump: “If you look at the shooter’s language and the president’s language they were very similar, and the president has inspired hate and violence, especially against immigrants and Hispanic Americans. My fear is what the shooter says in his manifesto is true—that this is just the beginning because of the president’s rhetoric that he engages in regularly.”

Since May 2018, Trump’s presidential campaign has spent more than a million dollars on about 2,200 Facebook ads that use the word “invasion,” the Texas Observer reported.

Conservatives, including Donald Trump Jr. and President Trump’s press team, have claimed Joaquin Castro’s tweet was targeting the individual and potentially subjecting them to harassment. 

"That list sort of screams like the Dayton, Ohio, shooter's list," Trump Jr. said Wednesday morning during an appearance on "Fox & Friends."

Joaquin Castro responded by saying: “How about I stop mentioning Trump's public campaign donors and he stops using their money for ads that fuel hate?" 

WATCH: KSAT anchor Steve Spriester's one-on-one interview with presidential candidate Julian Castro

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