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Donald Trump Jr. talks Skittles and white supremacists during Trib meeting

Tom Fontaine
| Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, 11:30 a.m.

The company that makes Skittles condemned a tweet by Donald Trump Jr. that compared the Syrian refugee crisis to a poisoned bowl of the candies — an analogy he made last week in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"If we had a bowl of Skittles on this table, and three of the 1,000 in there were poisonous, would you take from the bowl? You wouldn't until you could figure out which ones were bad," Trump Jr. told Trib reporters and editors.

It's an analogy that has been on the internet for years, using M&Ms and other foods and targeting a variety of groups. Skittles parent company Wrigley Americas distanced itself from Trump Jr.'s tweet in a statement.

"Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it's an appropriate analogy," Vice President of Corporate Affairs Denise Young said in the statement, declining further comment "as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing."

In the Trib interview, Trump Jr. argued that a proposal by his father, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, to ban Muslims from entering the United States was in the best interest of national security because some of the worst terrorist attacks have been committed by Islamic terrorists. He said the U.S. government has admitted that the screening process for allowing immigrants and refugees into the country is imperfect.

"I don't think we can take those kinds of risks with the safety and well-being of our children at stake right now," Trump Jr. said. "I think we do have to figure that out, and we do have to have a vetting process."

Immigrants to the United States are currently put through a vetting process.

Trump Jr. used a British photographer's image of Skittles without payment or permission, the BBC reported; the photographer was himself a refugee in the 1970s.

"I don't support his politics and I would never take his money to use it," David Kittos, 48, told the BBC.

Kittos, a British citizen, said he was a refugee from the Turkish occupation of Cyprus in 1974 when he was six-years old.

Trump Jr. did not use the same Skittles analogy for homegrown white supremacist terrorists in the Trib interview — though some have committed deadly attacks on American soil and white supremacists publicly support his father.

Before 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing by domestic terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols stood as the nation's worst terror attack, killing 168 people.

"Those are people we do not want anything to do with either, and we have to take care of that problem," Trump Jr. said of white supremacists, in particular.

"I think we have a great relationship with law enforcement and we want to let those guys do their jobs … What we want to do is have law and order is this country and ensure that safety for all Americans," Trump Jr. said.

FBI Director James Comey has said that homegrown violent extremists pose a continuing threat while the overseas threat from terrorism has continued to evolve along with new tactics and methods of communication.

After a 74-year-old white supremacist gunned down three people outside a Jewish community center and retirement facility in Kansas City two years ago in an anti-Semitic attack, Comey described the gunman, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., as a "madman with a warped view of what America should look like." None of the victims was Jewish.

It's the latest public-relations snafu for Trump Jr., who last week faced criticism after the Trib published a story in which he said his father shouldn't release his tax returns before the election because it would invite too many questions. The next day, Trump Jr. told a Philadelphia radio station that if his father and Republicans had done some of the same controversial things that their Democratic opponents had during the presidential race, the media would "be warming up the gas chamber right now" — a comment that drew criticism from some because of its connection to the Holocaust.

Tribune-Review staff writer Natasha Lindstrom and The Associated Press contributed. Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

Donald Trump Jr. talks about his father's campaign with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the Trib's office on the North Shore, Wednesday, September 14, 2016.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Donald Trump Jr. talks about his father's campaign with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the Trib's office on the North Shore, Wednesday, September 14, 2016.
Donald Trump Jr. talks about his father's campaign with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the Trib's office on the North Shore, Wednesday, September 14, 2016.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Donald Trump Jr. talks about his father's campaign with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the Trib's office on the North Shore, Wednesday, September 14, 2016.
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