The Worst Responses to Trump’s Racist Tweets

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.) 

.@LindseyGrahamSC on Fox & Friends: “We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists … they’re anti-Semitic. They’re anti-America.”
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 15, 2019

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: 

Anyone who says the president told members of Congress to go back to where they came from is lying.
He told them to “Then come back and show us how it is done.”
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) July 14, 2019

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: 

Cuccinelli, who was asked about Trump’s racist tweet yesterday on the Sunday shows, lies his ass off and says he hasn’t seen the tweet.
When pressed, he says the racist tweet isn’t racist.
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) July 15, 2019

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

Here is Cuccinelli being read the tweet the day before
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) July 15, 2019

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:

Maryland Congressman @RepAndyHarrisMD tells me President Trump’s tweets this weekend were “clearly not racist” and that “he could have meant go back to the district they came from–to the neighborhood they came from.” Full interview
— Bryan Nehman (@BryanNehman) July 15, 2019

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

.@RoyBlunt “Just because the so-called squad constantly insults and attacks the president isn’t a reason to adopt their unacceptable tactics. There is plenty to say about how destructive House Democrats’ policies would be for our economy, our health care system, and our security”
— Bryan Lowry (@BryanLowry3) July 15, 2019

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: 

Marc Short, Mike Pence’s chief of staff, told Fox News viewers that Trump doesn’t have “racist motives” because Elaine Chao is his transportation secretary.
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) July 15, 2019

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: 

Trump’s “go back” comments were nativist, xenophobic, counterfactul and politically stupid. But they simply do not meet the standard definition of racist, a word so recklessly flung around these days that its actual meaning is being lost.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) July 15, 2019

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

For those who asked what is my standard definition of racism, here is an answer: Note definition 1.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) July 15, 2019

…but neglected to mention the other three definitions: 

This is how tightly you need to define racism to say Trump isn’t a racist. You’re willing to concede that he fits two of the three dictionary definitions of racism.
— X-Wings & History (@TRB1783) July 15, 2019

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:  

Here’s a synopsis of Trump’s tweet:
“If you think you can fix America’s problems, go back to your corrupt home country, fix theirs, then return and show us how it is done.”
Nothing even REMOTELY xenophobic or racist. Only a complete racist themselves would see racism in that.
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) July 14, 2019