Mr Donald Trump has claimed an image he posted on the internet, which was criticized as anti-Semitic, featured a US Sheriff’s Star rather than a Jewish Star of David.
A controversy erupted after the presumptive Republican presidential nominee shared the picture with 9.5 million followers on his social media account.
It showed Hillary Clinton against a background of hundred dollar bills and a red six-pointed star emblazoned with the words “Most corrupt candidate ever!”
It later emerged that the image had previously been circulating on a neo-Nazi internet forum known for ant-Semitic posts.
For two days Mr Trump refused to respond to questions about it, during which time the tweet was deleted and then reposted after the star had been replaced with a circle.
On Monday the billionaire made his first comment, refusing to apologise and blaming the media for inflaming the row.
He said: “The dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!”
The image was condemned as “deeply alarming” by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.
Ed Brookover, Mr Trump’s campaign adviser, said: “There was never any intention of any anti-Semitism. There’s no anti-Semitism in Mr Trump’s body, not one ounce, not one cell. Not every six-sided star is a Star of David.”
He denied it had been taken straight from the neo-Nazi website by the Trump campaign.
Mr Brookover said: “These images get reposted and reposted on many forums. That doesn’t mean anyone is looking at a white supremacist website. That is not true.”
Corey Lewandowski, Mr Trump’s former campaign manager, claimed the controversy was “political correctness run amok”.
Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is Jewish, his daughter Ivanka is a convert to Judaism, and he has three Jewish grandchildren.
The image was first posted on the neo-Nazi website on June 22.
It had first been placed on the internet a week before that by a self-described “comedian” with a history of using racist images.
Mr Trump appeared to be trying to deflect attention from the row as he began fueling speculation about who his running mate will be.
He praised Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, Indiana governor Mike Pence, and Iowa senator Joni Ernst.
Senator Tom Cotton was great on Meet the Press yesterday. Despite a totally one-sided interview by Chuck Todd, the end result was solid!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2016