Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said Friday that “the evidence is incontrovertible” that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE is a racist following his reported remarks on Haiti and African countries.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Live with Hallie Jackson,” Steele was asked if he thinks Trump is a racist.
“Yeah, I do,” Steele said. “At this point … the evidence is controvertible.”
Steele also said Trump uses race as a tool “to move people emotionally to a space where he wants them to be to get a reaction out of them.”
“There are a whole lot of folks like Donald Trump,” Steele said. “White folks in this country who have a problem with the browning of America. … When they talk about [wanting] their country back, they are talking about a country that was very safely white, less brown and less committed to that browning process.”
The former RNC chairman has been a frequent critic of Trump, previously saying the U.S. “no longer has a moral compass” under Trump’s leadership.
Steele’s comments follow a Washington Post report Thursday that in a meeting with bipartisan lawmakers Trump referred to immigrants from Haiti and African countries as coming from “shithole countries.”
Trump also reportedly said the U.S. should bring in more immigrants from countries like Norway.
In a statement, the White House did not deny Trump’s “shithole” comments.
But Friday morning, Trump denied saying “anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country” and said that while he used “tough language” in the meeting with lawmakers, “this was not the language used.”
Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats turn on Al Franken Minnesota’s largest newspaper calls on Franken to resign Democratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday MORE (D-Ill.), who was present in the meeting with Trump, said the president’s denials were “not true” because Trump “said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”
Trump’s comments drew backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, media figures and foreign governments, many of whom accused Trump of racist behavior.