The Worst Responses to Trump’s Racist Tweets

No YOU’RE the racist!

Ron Sachs/CNP via Zuma

While President Donald Trump continues to double down on his racist weekend tweetstorm, his fiercest defenders are contorting themselves to try to explain that, actually, those comments weren’t racist. 

On Sunday, Trump unleashed a string of attacks on four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, collectively known as “The Squad”—urging them to “go back” to the “crime infested” countries they came from. (Only one of them, Omar, was born abroad.) It immediately sparked outrage from all over the world, uniting Democrats (whose very public feud was the original source of Trump’s tweets) and causing #RacistInChief to trend on Twitter. 

Trump has since doubled down on his tweets, saying that he doesn’t need to apologize for anything and that, actually, he deserves an apology from the congresswomen he attacked. And his people have his back. Here’s a roundup of some of the worst defenses of Trump’s tweets: 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): On Fox & Friends, Graham defended the president by calling Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of The Squad anti-American and anti-Semitic communists. (Trump quote-tweeted Graham’s comments shortly after they aired.) 

Trump 2020 campaign deputy communications director Matt Wolking: Wolking emphasized that the president said that the congresswomen should “come back” after telling them to “go back” to the countries they came from, and anyone who doesn’t include that coda is a liar: 

Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli: Asked by CNN on Monday morning if he thought the tweets were racist, Cuccinelli claimed he hadn’t seen the tweets yet: 

Except that on Sunday, he was just on CNN, where he was read the tweets: 

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.): Harris told a reporter that Trump’s tweets “obviously weren’t racist” because the president was telling the congresswomen to go back to their home districts, not countries:

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.): Blunt also backed the president, but skirted the question of racism and instead attacked the Democratic Party in general:

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence: Short went on to Fox News to let viewers know that Trump can’t have “racist motives” because he appointed Elaine Chao, who is Asian American, as his transportation secretary: 

Brit Hume: Then there’s this academic argument from Fox News’ Hume that Trump’s tweets don’t meet the “standard definition” of racist, so everyone should stop using that word: 

He then cited Merriam-Webster’s definition of racism… 

…but neglected to mention the other three definitions: 

Bill Mitchell: The worst defense came from Mitchell, a right-wing radio host, who argued that Trump’s tweets weren’t racist, and you’re racist for thinking that:  

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.