Not only does President Donald Trump hold that he is not racist — he says that he is probably one of the “least racist” people out there.
The president on Sunday amid reports that he referred to some foreign countries — namely, Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa — as a “shithole” denied such remarks and said charges of racism against him were unfair. “No, no, I’m not a racist,” Trump said, according to a pool report and transcripts released by the White House. “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.”
Trump sparked fierce backlash this week after reports emerged that he had complained in a meeting with legislators this week on immigration about why the United States admits people from what he deems “shithole countries.” The Washington Post was first was first to report the remarks, which NBC News later confirmed.
Many slammed Trump’s reported remarks as racist, noting that the president reportedly suggested the US take more people from “countries like Norway,” where the population is predominantly white, as opposed to Haiti and Africa. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said in an interview with ABC’s This Week on Sunday of Trump, “I think he is a racist.”
Trump on Sunday denied that he made the “shithole” remarks, though some lawmakers in the room with him when he made them have confirmed them. (Trump was reportedly meeting with lawmakers about a deal on immigration and the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program — DACA — when he said that.) Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who attended the meeting, has publicly confirmed Trump’s “shithole” remarks, saying that the president did indeed say “these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.” Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) told the Post and Courier that Senator Lindsey Graham, who was also there, that he had told him Trump’s reported comments were “basically accurate.”
Others in attendance have said they don’t remember what Trump said — namely, Republican Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “I don’t recall him saying that exact phrase. I think he has been clear, and I think undoubtedly the president will continue to use strong language when it comes to this issue, because he feels very passionate about it,” Nielsen said in an interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Sunday.
Many aren’t picking up what Trump and his defenders are putting down and are instead pointing to the “shithole” remarks as the latest in a litany of evidence of the president’s history of racism, which runs for his calling for a group of young black and Latino men to face the death penalty for a rape for which they were eventually exonerated to his insistence that some among the neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer were “very fine people.” And as Ana Minian, an assistant professor of history at Stanford University and author of the forthcoming book Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration, recently explained to Vox’s Jen Kirby, Trump’s reported remarks go beyond their racist undertones:
Trump also previously complained that immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS,” according to the New York Times.
To be sure, Trump has denied all charges of racism and has on various occasions said he is the least biased person on the planet. For example, in February 2017 he said at a press conference that he is the “least racist person” there is. He followed up by asking a black reporter whether she was friends with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and if she could set up a meeting.