Martin Luther King Jr.’s nephew called President Trump ‘racially ignorant’ but ‘not a racist’ after meeting with him privately before a MLK event in the Oval Office Friday.
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. told CNN that Trump addressed the controversy over reportedly calling Haiti, El Salvador and African countries ‘sh**tholes’ in a meeting on immigration in the Oval on Thursday.
Farris Jr. said Trump and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, the only African-American in Trump’s Cabinet, were discussing the fallout from the vulgar remarks, when the president turned to him and said ‘I am not the person that the media is making me out to be.’
President Trump enters the Roosevelt Room following a brief meeting with Martin Luther King Jr.’s nephew Isaac Newton Farris Jr. in the Oval Office on Friday
Farris Jr. recalled the president telling him Friday during a meeting in which fallout from comments he made the previous day in the Oval Office were discussed. Farris Jr. says Trump told him: ‘I am not the person that the media is making me out to be,’ following fa
Farris Jr. said his uncle, Martin Luther King Jr. would have urged the president ‘not to refer to African countries like that,’ in response to Trump’s reported ‘sh**hole countries’ comment
MLK’s nephew also told CNN: ‘I don’t think that President Trump is a racist in the traditional sense as we know in this country.’ However, he added: ‘I think President Trump is racially ignorant and racially uninformed.’
Farris Jr. added his comments are just ‘another example of him (Trump) speaking without knowing the facts.’
When asked how his uncle would have responded to Trump’s comments on Thursday, Farris Jr. said he would have asked him ‘not to refer to African countries like that.’
Trump has denied making the widely condemned comments in which he railed against immigrants from ‘s***hole countries,’ although he has admitted to using ‘tough’ language in an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers on Thursday.
Trump did not publicly address the controversy during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony held in the Roosevelt Room on Friday, but it wasn’t because no one was asking about it.
‘Mr. President, will you give an apology for the statement yesterday?’ asked American Urban Radio Network White House Correspondent and CNN contributor April Ryan. ‘Mr. President, are you a racist?’ she asked in a second attempt.
The president ducked Ryan’s questions as he said goodbye to his guests and rushed out of the room.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday called the president’s comments on immigration ‘unhelpful.’
‘I read those comments later last night, the first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful,’ the Republican said at WisPolitics Luncheon in Milwaukee.
‘So, I see this as a thing to celebrate,’ he said, recalled his own family’s immigration to the United States from Ireland. ‘And I think it’s a big part of our strength.’
The president ducked questions on his alleged ‘s***hole’ countries remarks today
Trump’s alleged remarks, which he has disputed, were thrown back in his face at an ill-timed Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in the Roosevelt Room
‘Mr. President, will you give an apology for the statement yesterday?’ asked American Urban Radio Network correspondent and CNN contributor April Ryan
At the White House Friday morning, Trump signed a proclamation honoring the civil rights leader and delivered a short speech celebrating King’s accomplishments.
Carson also spoke at the White House event. So did Pastor Issac Newton Farris, a nephew of the late Dr. King.
‘If my uncle were here today, the first thing he would say is, “What are we or what are you doing for others?”‘ Farris said. ‘We did not want the King holiday just to be a day of hero worship.’
Farris said as his nephew, ‘I certainly think that he was one of the greatest Americans that we have produced. But it should not be a day of hero worship. And that’s why the Congress agreed with my aunt, and also made it a day of service so that we, on that day – as a matter of fact, at the King Center, we refer to it as “a day on, not a day off.”
Ryan also asked: ‘Mr. President, are you a racist?’
‘It’s not a day to hang out in the park or pull out the barbeque grill. It’s a day to do something to help someone else, and that can be as simple as delivering someone’s trash or picking up the newspaper for that elderly person who can’t get to the end of the driveway.’
Trump said in his remarks that King ‘courageously’ stood up civil rights.
‘Through his bravery and sacrifice, Dr. King opened the eyes and lifted the conscience of our nation,’ he said. ‘He steered the hearts of our people to recognize the dignity written in every human soul.’
And in a moment of irony given his alleged remarks, Trump said, ‘Today we celebrate Dr. King for standing up for self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God.’
‘While Dr. King is no longer with us,’ Trump said, ‘his words and vision only grow stronger through time.’
Signing an MLK Day proclamation, Trump said, ‘This is a great and important day… Congratulations to him and to everybody.’
The president did not respond to Ryan’s questions. Pastor Darrell Scott, a participant in the event, shouted, ‘no,’ at her instead
‘I’m talking to the president, not you sir,’ she could be heard saying to Scott (left) audibly as cameras continue to roll