Trump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE on Monday accused the media of smearing the high school students involved in a widely publicized encounter over the weekend with a Native American man. 

"Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false - smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback!" Trump tweeted, before referring to a topic of discussion on Fox News host Tucker Carlson's show.

“New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American," the quote tied to Carlson read. 

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Trump's comment that the students were treated "unfairly" comes amid the fallout from an incident involving students from a Kentucky high school and a Native American elder at the Indigenous Indigenous People's March in Washington, D.C. 

Video clips passed around social media over the weekend appeared to show the students harassing and taunting the man, Nathan Phillips. The most widely-shared video featured a student, Nick Sandmann, with an expression many described as smirking as Phillips played his drum directly in front of him. 

Sandmann and several other students were wearing “Make America Great Again” apparel during the encounter.

Additional footage and reports emerging later appeared to show that Phillips approached Sandman after other protesters started hassling the students. It remains unclear whether Phillips was intervening on behalf of either group. A third group of Black Hebrew Israelites was also reportedly involved and were taunting both the students and the Native Americans.

Sandmann said in a statement Sunday that initial reports about the confrontation were based on "misinformation" and "outright lies."

“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse [sic] the situation,” he also claimed in the statement, referring to standing in front of the Native American man smiling.

Phillips, however, claimed to the Detroit Free Press that he put himself “between beast and prey” by standing between the students and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites.

"These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that,” he said.

-Michael Burke contributed to this report which was updated at 10:25 p.m.