White House senior adviser Jared Kushner denied any accusations of racism against President Donald Trump, but stumbled when faced with questions about his father-in-law’s push for birtherism and the Muslim ban.
In an interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Kushner vehemently defended Trump against charges by some Democrats, specifically Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), that the president is a racist. Trump’s former personal fixer, Michael Cohen, also recently called the president a racist.
“You can’t not be a racist for 69 years and then run for president and be a racist,” the senior adviser told Swan. “And what I’ll say is, when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer from real racism in this country.”
When asked if Kushner thought Trump’s so-called birther conspiracy theory was racist, he repeatedly said, “Look, I wasn’t really involved in that.”
Trump built his political career by peddling the debunked racist birther hoax that questioned former President Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship. Obama was born in Hawaii.
Kushner also avoided answering the question of whether he thought Trump’s campaigning on a Muslim ban was an example of the president’s religious bigotry, saying: “I think the president did his campaign the way he did his campaign.”
The final version of Trump’s executive order, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last year, banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as citizens from North Korea and Venezuela, from entering the United States. State Department data released in February showed that more than 37,000 visa applications were rejected last year due to the travel ban.