WASHINGTON — At Wednesday’s White House press conference, Yahoo News asked President Trump about accusations made by three individuals that he has made racist comments about African-Americans. Trump angrily denied those claims and said he has “never used racist remarks.”
“No. I would never do that, and I don’t use racist remarks and, you know what? If I did, you people, you would have known about it,” Trump said.
Trump went on to note that there have long been rumors about audio or video evidence of him making racist comments, and emphatically reiterated his denial.
“I’ve been hearing there are tapes for years and years,” Trump said. “Number one, I never worried about it because I never did. I never used racist remarks. I have never used racist remarks.”
Earlier this month, the president’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, told Vanity Fair that the president had repeatedly used racist language in his presence, including an alleged 2016 exchange during which Trump said that black people were “too stupid to vote for me.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump dismissed Cohen’s claims.
“That’s false,” he said.
Yahoo News then asked the president about allegations made by former political aide Omarosa Manigault Newman that she had heard a tape of him using the N-word. Manigault Newman’s comments came after persistent rumors there were recordings of Trump using racist language on the set of his reality show, “The Apprentice.” Manigault Newman was a regular on the show before joining the White House staff.
“That’s false,” Trump said of Manigault Newman’s remarks.
Both Cohen and Manigault Newman were close allies of the president who eventually became critics. Cohen’s shift came as he pleaded guilty in August to charges tied to campaign finance violations and tax fraud. Manigault Newman emerged as a vocal opponent of Trump’s after she left the White House staff in late 2017. She went on to publish a tell-all book filled with unflattering comments about Trump. After they turned critical of his leadership, the president began questioning the credibility of both Cohen and Manigault Newman.
At the press conference, Yahoo News also asked Trump about a third accusation that he used racist language about rapper Lil Jon. That claim first emerged in an October 2016 Daily Beast article that said Trump called Lil Jon “Uncle Tom” when the rapper starred on “The Apprentice.” Trump responded to the question by saying he was unaware of Lil Jon.
“I don’t know who Lil Jon is. I really don’t,” Trump said.
Informed that Lil Jon was a contestant on “The Apprentice,” president appeared to recall the rapper. Trump then denied ever using racist language to refer to Lil Jon or anyone else.
Following the president’s denial of ever having used racist language, Yahoo News noted a factual issue related to a comment Trump made in response to another question about racial issues.
Earlier in the press conference, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump whether he was “emboldening” white supremacists when he described himself as a “nationalist.” Trump accused Alcindor, who is African-American, of having asked a “racist question.” He went on to dismiss the possibility he had encouraged white nationalists and claimed he had “among the highest poll numbers with African-Americans.”
After the exchange about the allegations of racist language, Yahoo News noted a “point of fact” related to Trump’s boast about his poll numbers with black voters and pointed to an October Quinnipiac survey that showed his approval rating is just 8 percent in the African-American community. The president responded by accusing this reporter of attempting to sow “division.”
“When you talk about division, it’s people like this that cause division, great division,” Trump said, adding, “Point of fact is that I never used a racist remark. That’s the point of fact.”
Prior to the questions about racial issues, Yahoo News also tried to clarify another point Trump made when he was asked about the possibility Democrats could obtain his tax returns now that they control the House. Trump has repeatedly refused to release his returns as other presidents have. He has cited an ongoing audit as reason for this. The president returned to the audit at Wednesday’s press conference, and Yahoo News noted it would not stop him from releasing the returns.
“I know it,” Trump said, “I didn’t say it prevented me. I said lawyers will tell you not to do it.”
The press conference featured several heated exchanges between Trump and White House reporters. He attacked the media as “hostile” and “fake news” while singling out individual correspondents as “rude.” Yahoo News began by telling the president it was good to have the opportunity to question him and that his engagement with the “free press” is “vital to democracy.” Trump responded by indicating he enjoys attention from the press.
“It’s called earned media,” Trump said. “It’s worth billions.”
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