A recent White House intern's use of the "OK" hand sign in a photo with President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE is being interpreted by many as the use of a white power hand sign, after the "OK' symbol was adopted by far-right groups in recent months.
Jack Breuer, a recent college graduate who interned at the White House this fall, showed the symbol, which looks exactly like the "OK' hand gesture, in a photo with the rest of the White House interns and the president himself, the Daily Mail first reported Thursday.
Breuer responded Friday morning, saying the symbol was meant to be the "OK" hand sign. He also said that he is of Jewish heritage and strongly rejects views associated with white power groups.
"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," Breuer told The Daily Caller in a statement Friday.
"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."
NEW: White House intern Jack Breuer accused of flashing white nationalist hand gesture by @DailyMail tells me he was simply emulating @POTUS well known OK sign, has Jewish heritage, and has no association with far right groups https://t.co/FGpQfED18K pic.twitter.com/gqNOdOpGYf— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) December 29, 2017
Most of the interns who posed for the photo gave Trump's signature thumbs-up sign with their hands. Breuer is seen toward the back of the photo making the letter shapes of 'w' and 'p' or the "OK" sign with his right hand.
The symbol has become popular among the far-right and white supremacists.
White nationalists and far-right activists were seen using the symbol at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., this summer, where one woman was killed in the protests against the march. Self-described white supremacist Richard Spencer, who organized the march, has frequently shown the sign at public events.
The provocative gesture was first noticed after the White House mailed the photos to the interns' families, Daily Mail reports.
One fellow intern said that Breuer, who worked under senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, is "a good kid and is probably doing it as a joke."
"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," another intern told the Daily Mail.
Trump has come under fire for not more harshly condemning so-called alt-right supporters, who praised the president for his response to the violent Charlottesville rally in saying there were "very fine people on both sides."
Updated Friday, Dec. 29 at 11:45 a.m.