After facing harsh backlash for his inflammatory remarks about a black congressman and his black-majority district, President Donald Trump has repeated his hyperbolic assertion that he’s the “least racist person” in the world.
C-SPAN journalist Steve Scully questioned Trump in a Tuesday interview about his recent criticism of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and his district, which covers most of Baltimore. The president had labeled the city a “rat and rodent infested mess.” Trump’s comments were called “racist” by many Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Trump shrugged off the accusation in his dialogue with Scully, saying the term “racist” is now “so overused.”
“I think the word has really gone down a long way because everybody’s called a racist now,” the president said. “Her own party called Nancy Pelosi a racist two weeks ago. The word is so overused. It’s such a disgrace. I can tell you, I’m the least racist person there is in the world, as far as I’m concerned.”
“They use it almost when they run out of things to criticize you. They say, ‘He’s a racist, he’s a racist,’” Trump continued. “In some cases, it’s true, there are people who are racist ― bad people. But with me, they have a hard time getting away with it, and they don’t get away with it.”
Trump went on to say that he’d done a great deal for African Americans as president, including criminal justice reform and the creation of “opportunity zones,” a federal initiative that provides tax benefits for new investments in low-income areas.
Opportunity zones, Trump said, are “one of the most successful things ever done for the inner cities.”
Analysts remain on the fence as to whether opportunity zones will actually be effective at helping residents in distressed communities. In Baltimore, for instance, there has been a marked increase in interest from investors in recent months thanks to the initiative, according to The Baltimore Sun. But Barbara Samuels of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Maryland chapter told the paper that, although the program’s benefits will boost wealthy investors, “not much is going to trickle down to the neighborhoods.”
Trump told Scully that the media was not covering the work he’d done in criminal justice reform or in opportunity zones.
When the journalist pointed to a recent Quinnipiac University poll in which 80% of black respondents identified Trump as a racist, the president said this wouldn’t be the case “if the press treated me fairly.”
“If the lame-stream, or mainstream or whatever you want to call it, media or fake news, if it would be covered, people would feel a lot differently,” Trump said.