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Rep John Lewis says ‘racism must be in Trump’s DNA’

US Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, has said he will not attend the State of the Union address by President Donald Trump, in an interview on Friday.

‘I cannot in all good conscious be in a room, with what he has said about so many Americans,’ Lewis told NBC’s Katie Tur, following Trump reportedly calling Haiti, El Salvador and African nations ‘s***hole countries’ during a bi-partisan meeting regarding immigration in the Oval Office on Thursday.

‘I just can’t do it. I wouldn’t be honest with myself,’ he added, after saying racism ‘must be in [Trump’s] DNA.’     

Lewis has represented Georgia in Congress for more than 30 years and marched alongside Dr Martin Luther King, Jr during the Civil Rights movement.

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US Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, has said he will not attend the State of the Union address by President Donald Trump, in an interview on Friday, after saying that 'racism must be in Trump's DNA'

US Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, has said he will not attend the State of the Union address by President Donald Trump, in an interview on Friday, after saying that ‘racism must be in Trump’s DNA’

The member of Congress had a hard time reconciling what Trump reportedly said on Thursday with a public ceremony honoring Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, on Friday.  

‘I think the words that he spoke, and the action that he took to honor Dr Martin Luther King, Jr are incompatible,’ Lewis said.

‘You cannot speak the words of tolerance of peace and love and nonviolence and then put down a group of people. A nation of people, because of the color of their skin, or what part of the world they may come from.’   

Trump is seen here before signing a proclamation to honor Martin Luther King, Jr day, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Friday, which Lewis said did not make sense given Trump's reported comments from Thursday, disparaging Haiti, El Salvador and African nations

Trump is seen here before signing a proclamation to honor Martin Luther King, Jr day, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Friday, which Lewis said did not make sense given Trump’s reported comments from Thursday, disparaging Haiti, El Salvador and African nations

Sources told the Washington Post that the President was frustrated during talks related to protection for people in the US under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and immigrants from other countries at the White House on Thursday.

‘Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?’ Trump said, referring to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, according to sources briefed on the meeting.

Trump then stated the US should instead have more immigrants from places like Norway, a country with residents largely of Germanic, fair-skinned descent, and Asian countries, the sources said.      

Lewis had a hard time reconciling what Trump reportedly said on Thursday with a public ceremony honoring Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (pictured), on Friday

Lewis had a hard time reconciling what Trump reportedly said on Thursday with a public ceremony honoring Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (pictured), on Friday

Lewis discussed Trump's reported comments about Haiti, El Salvador and African nations with NBC's Katie Tur on Friday

Lewis discussed Trump’s reported comments about Haiti, El Salvador and African nations with NBC’s Katie Tur on Friday

Tur asked Lewis what he thought Dr King, Jr, might say to Trump, if he were here today.

Lewis said: ‘He would say, “Mr President wake up. You need to do what is right. You need to be a little bit more human. You need to do what is fair, and respect the dignity and worth of every human being. And stop putting people down because of their race, their color or their nationality.”‘  

On Friday, after public outrage swelled over his reported comments, Trump tweeted the following:

‘The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!’   

Trump reportedly called Haiti, El Salvador and African nations 's***hole countries' on Thursday

Trump reportedly called Haiti, El Salvador and African nations ‘s***hole countries’ on Thursday

On Friday, Trump denied calling Haiti, El Salvador and African nations 's***hole countries'

On Friday, Trump denied calling Haiti, El Salvador and African nations ‘s***hole countries’

Trump addressed reports that he said to 'Take them out,' regarding any references to Haitian immigrant protections in immigration policy deal talks on Thursday

Trump addressed reports that he said to ‘Take them out,’ regarding any references to Haitian immigrant protections in immigration policy deal talks on Thursday

Sources also told the Post that Trump insisted that Haitians be left out of any deal made concerning immigrants to recieve protections in the US.

‘Why do we need more Haitians?’ Trump reportedly said. ‘Take them out.’

Later, the President addressed that comment specifically, also via social media:

‘Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!’  

But Democratic Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin, who was at the meeting, refuted Trump’s tweets about his language in a statement released Friday.

‘In the course of his comments, President Trump said things that were hate-filled, vile, and racist,’ Durbin said.

‘He used those words, and he used them repeatedly. I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.’ 

Democratic Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin, who was at the meeting, refuted Trump's tweets about his language in a statement released Friday

Democratic Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin, who was at the meeting, refuted Trump’s tweets about his language in a statement released Friday

Lewis had a lot to say about the exchange described to the Post, and by Durbin; Lewis is seen here in Washington, DC on October 4

Lewis had a lot to say about the exchange described to the Post, and by Durbin; Lewis is seen here in Washington, DC on October 4

Lewis had a lot to say about the exchange described to the Post, and by Durbin.        

‘It is unreal, it is unbelievable to hear the President of the United States of America saying something like this during this day and age,’ Lewis said.

‘We’ve come so far, we’ve made so much progress and sometimes I feel like Mr Trump is not really in tune with what the American people are all about.

‘To redeem the soul of America, to create what Dr Martin Luther King, Jr called the beloved community.

‘We are one people, we are one family, we all live in the same house.  The American House.

‘And I don’t think language like this is in keeping with the future of our country or the future of the planet.’

Tur asked if Lewis thought Trump was racist. 

‘I think the words and his action tend to speak like one who knows something about being a racist. It must be in his DNA, in his makeup, but its frightening to have someone in te office of the President in 2018 speaking the way that he’s speaking

‘We’ve come too far, we’ve made too much progress, to go back, to fan the flames of racism and bigotry.’

Lewis then recounted words of inspiration from the leader of the Catholic church.

‘When the Pope spoke to a joint session of Congress, he said, “We all are immigrants from some other place,”‘ Lewis said.     

Republican Congress member Jim Renacci from Ohio said, 'I know a lot of the times he's saying what people are thinking. I always say judge the President after four years. Let's judge the President after what we've done. Let's not judge the President on what he says'

Republican Congress member Jim Renacci from Ohio said, ‘I know a lot of the times he’s saying what people are thinking. I always say judge the President after four years. Let’s judge the President after what we’ve done. Let’s not judge the President on what he says’

Tur then asked what Lewis thought about a statement made in support of Trump by Republican Congress member Jim Renacci, who represents Ohio in the House.

Renacci said: ‘I know a lot of the times he’s saying what people are thinking. I always say judge the President after four years. Let’s judge the President after what we’ve done. Let’s not judge the President on what he says.’

Tur asked Lewis if people believe that Trump is saying what people are thinking, if that makes his reported comments OK. Lewis responded, saying absolutely not.

‘It is not OK. It is not right. It is not in keeping with the future of America,’ Lewis said.

‘We are people of color. We’re black. We’re white. We’re Latino. We’re Asian-American. We’re Native American. We’re Muslim. We’re Christian. We’re Jewish.

‘And as Dr King said over and over again, “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. If not, we will perish as fools.”

Lewis quoted A. Philip Randolph (pictured), who said, 'Maybe our mothers and our fathers all came to this great land in different ships, but we're all in the same boat now;' Randolph is seen here in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, the President who freed the slaves, in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963

Lewis quoted A. Philip Randolph (pictured), who said, ‘Maybe our mothers and our fathers all came to this great land in different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now;’ Randolph is seen here in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, the President who freed the slaves, in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963

‘There was another Black leader by the name of A. Philip Randolph who spoke during the March on Washington in 2963. He said, “Maybe our mothers and our fathers all came to this great land in different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.”

The President must be a leader, he must be a headlight, and not a tail light.’ 

Lewis said Democrats should not run their elections on impeaching Trump, but instead run for election and re-election on their records and on the message that Democrats want to unify this country.

‘I think that voters will get the message that we want to create one America,’ he said. 

Lewis said Democrats should not run their elections on impeaching Trump, but instead on their records and on the message that Democrats want to unify this country

Lewis said Democrats should not run their elections on impeaching Trump, but instead on their records and on the message that Democrats want to unify this country

 

 

 

 



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