Donald Trump has added to his long list of racist rhetoric and actions.
On July 14, the U.S. president tweeted a racist rant, clearly aimed at four Democratic lawmakers, all women of color ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) ― saying they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
All four are American, and only Omar was born outside the U.S.
Trump then doubled down on his remarks the next day, telling reporters at an event at the White House that he believes the congresswomen “hate our country.”
Throughout Trump’s campaign and beyond, HuffPost has kept a running list of examples of Trump’s racism, dating back to the 1970s. He’s added much fodder to the list since he’s been in the White House. Here are just a few examples:
He said immigrants from Africa and Haiti come from “shithole countries”
In a meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office in January 2018, Trump argued against restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti and African nations, describing them as “shithole countries,” sources told The Washington Post and NBC News.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” the president reportedly asked. “We should have more people from places like Norway.”
The following day, Trump claimed on Twitter that he hadn’t used those specific words, but Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) ― who was in the room at the time ― swiftly contradicted him, saying that the president had in fact “said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”
He asked a Korean-American intelligence analyst where “your people” are from
Officials told NBC News that in fall 2017, a Korean-American intelligence analyst was briefing Trump on a situation in Pakistan when the president asked her: “Where are you from?”
When she told him she was from New York, Trump was reportedly “unsatisfied and asked again.”
Referring to the president’s hometown, she offered that she, too, was from Manhattan. But that’s not what the president was after.
He wanted to know where “your people” are from, according to the officials, who spoke under condition of anonymity due to the nature of the internal discussions.
Trump’s question was a variation of “where are you really from?” ― a question commonly asked of people of color, particularly Asian-Americans, who are often seen as “the other.”
Referring to that analyst as “the pretty Korean lady,” Trump also asked why she was not working on issues surrounding U.S. negotiations with North Korea, suggesting that he believes people’s ethnic backgrounds should determine their jobs.
He condemned people “on many sides” of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia
Trump came under fire in August 2017 for his response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one counter-protester dead.
He said he condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” without specifically mentioning the white supremacists who organized the rally and the one who killed a woman with his car.
In a later comment which drew wide condemnation, he said there were “some very fine people on both sides.”
Some of his top advisers and Cabinet picks had histories of prejudice
Trump has picked top advisers and cabinet officials whose careers are checkered with accusations of racially biased behavior.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and senior counselor, was executive chairman of Breitbart, a news site that Bannon dubbed the “home of the alt-right” ― a euphemism that describes a loose coalition of white supremacists and aligned groups. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart increased its accommodation of openly racist and anti-Semitic writing, capitalizing on the rise of white nationalism prompted by Trump’s campaign.
Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn ― who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser until resigning in February 2017 amid revelations that he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador ― has drawn scrutiny for anti-Muslim comments he has made over the years. Flynn has tweeted that “fear of Muslims is rational.” In the summer of 2017, he said that there is a “diseased component inside the Islamic world” that is like a “cancer.” And he has defended Trump’s past proposal of banning Muslim immigration and suggested he would be open to reviving torture techniques like waterboarding.
In addition, Trump picked former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be attorney general of the United States. (Sessions resigned in November 2018.) In 1986, before he became part of the chamber himself, the Senate refused to confirm Sessions as a federal judge amid accusations that he’d made racially insensitive comments, including that the only reason he hadn’t joined the Ku Klux Klan was because members of the extremist group smoked marijuana.
He denied responsibility for the racist incidents that followed his election
While the hate speech and racist violence emboldened by his campaign only escalated after his win, Trump downplayed the incidents and half-heartedly denounced them.
There were nearly 900 hate incidents across the U.S. in the 10 days following the 2016 election, a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found. Those attacks include vandals drawing swastikas on a synagogue, schools, cars and driveways; an assailant beating a gay man while saying the “president says we can kill all you faggots now”; and children telling their black classmates to sit in the back of the school bus.
In nearly 40% of those incidents, the SPLC found, people explicitly invoked Trump’s name or his campaign slogans.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Anti-Defamation League have also tracked significant growth in racist and bigoted attacks.
Despite those findings, Trump insisted on CBS’ “60 Minutes” the Sunday after his election that there had only been “a very small amount” of racist incidents. “I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump said when asked about the incidents. “And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the camera: ‘Stop it.’”
He launched a travel ban targeting Muslims
While then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted that it was “not a Muslim ban,” Trump said the day he signed the first order that he would prioritize helping Syrian Christians.
Trump has characterized people from that region of the world as being “terror-prone,” despite there having been zero fatal terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 1975 by immigrants from the seven countries targeted in the original iteration of the ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
He claimed a judge was biased because “he’s a Mexican”
In May 2016, Trump implied that Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over a class action suit against the for-profit Trump University, could not fairly hear the case because of his Mexican heritage.
“He’s a Mexican,” Trump told CNN. Referring at the time to his core campaign pledge that has yet to happen he said, “We’re building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings — rulings that people can’t even believe.”
Curiel, it should be noted, is an American citizen who was born in Indiana. As a prosecutor in the late 1990s, he went after Mexican drug cartels, making him a target for assassination by a Tijuana drug lord.
Even members of Trump’s own party slammed the racist remarks.
“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said, though he added that he still endorsed Trump.
The Justice Department sued his company ― twice ― for not renting to black people
In 1973, when Trump was serving as the president of his family’s real estate company, the Trump Management Corp., the Justice Department sued the company for alleged racial discrimination against black people looking to rent apartments in the Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island boroughs of New York City.
The lawsuit charged that the company quoted different rental terms and conditions to black rental candidates than it did to white candidates, and that the company lied to black applicants about apartments not being available. Trump called those accusations “absolutely ridiculous” and sued the Justice Department for $100 million in damages for defamation.
Without admitting wrongdoing, the Trump Management Corp. settled the original lawsuit two years later and promised not to discriminate against black people, Puerto Ricans or other minorities. Trump also agreed to send weekly vacancy lists for his 15,000 apartments to the New York Urban League, a civil rights group, and to allow the NYUL to present qualified applicants for vacancies in certain Trump properties.
Just three years after that, the Justice Department sued the Trump Management Corp. again for allegedly discriminating against black applicants by telling them apartments weren’t available.
In fact, discrimination against black people has been a pattern throughout Trump’s career
Workers at Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, accused him of racism over the years. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino $200,000 in 1992 because managers would remove African-American card dealers at the request of a certain big-spending gambler. A state appeals court upheld the fine.
The first-person account of at least one black Trump casino employee in Atlantic City suggests the racist practices were consistent with Trump’s personal behavior toward black workers.
“When Donald and Ivana (the first of his three wives) came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, told The New Yorker for a 2015 article. “It was the ’80s, I was a teenager, but I remember it: they put us all in the back.”
Trump allegedly disparaged his black casino employees as “lazy” in vividly bigoted terms, according to a 1991 book by John O’Donnell, a former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.
“And isn’t it funny. I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” O’Donnell recalled Trump saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
“I think the guy is lazy,” Trump said of a black employee, according to O’Donnell. “And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”
Trump told an interviewer in 1997 that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true,” but in 1999 accused O’Donnell of having fabricated the quotes.
He questioned whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.
Long before calling Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists,” Trump was a leading proponent of “birtherism,” the racist conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and thus legally should not have been allowed to serve as the nation’s chief executive. Trump claimed in 2011 to have sent people to Hawaii to investigate whether Obama was really born there. Trump insisted at the time that the researchers “cannot believe what they are finding.”
Obama ultimately got the better of Trump, releasing his long-form birth certificate and relentlessly mocking the real estate mogul about it at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner that year.
But Trump continued to insinuate that Obama was not born in the country.
In September 2016, under pressure to clarify his position, Trump finally acknowledged that Obama was indeed born in the U.S. But he falsely tried to blame Hillary Clinton for starting the birtherism rumors ― and tried to take credit for settling them with his racist pressure campaign.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Trump said. “I finished it.”
He trashed Native Americans, too
In 1993, Trump wanted to open a casino in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that would compete with one owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Nation, a local Native American tribe. He told the House subcommittee on Native American Affairs that the Pequots “don’t look like Indians to me... They don’t look like Indians to Indians.”
Trump then elaborated on those remarks, which were unearthed by The Hartford Courant, by claiming ― with no evidence ― that the mafia had infiltrated Native American casinos.
He also has not hesitated to use a Native American slur to attack his political rivals.
In 2017, just days after proclaiming November as Native American Heritage Month, Trump went after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has identified as part Native American, with a nickname he’s used against her before: “Pocahontas.”
Invoking Pocahontas, an Algonquin woman associated with an English colony in Virginia, to lodge an attack is unacceptable, Indian Country columnist Ruth Hopkins tweeted.
“Pocahontas was prepubescent girl held hostage & raped by European invaders,” she tweeted after Trump’s remarks. “Stop mocking her & Native women.”
Later in November 2017, Trump came under fire for using the slur at an event honoring Native Americans.
“You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump told the honored Native American code talkers who served during World War II. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
He encouraged the mob anger that resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of the Central Park Five
In 1989, Trump took out full-page ads in four New York City-area newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty in the state of New York and the expansion of police authority in response to the infamous case of a woman who was beaten and raped while jogging in Manhattan’s Central Park.
Five teenagers ― four blacks and one Hispanic ― were arrested in the case. “They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes,” Trump wrote, referring to the so-called Central Park Five and other violent criminals. “I want to hate these murderers and I always will.”
The public outrage over the jogger’s rape, at a time when the city was struggling with high crime rates, led to the wrongful conviction of the five teenagers. After they’d spent years in prison, the men’s convictions were overturned in 2002 when DNA evidence showed they did not commit the crime. Today, their case is considered a cautionary tale about a politicized criminal justice process.
Trump, however, in a 2013 tweet, indicated he still considered the men guilty.
And after Ava DuVernay’s Netflix show on the case aired in mid-2019, Trump refused to alter his stance.
“You have people on both sides of that,” Trump told reporters outside the White House in June, when asked if he would apologize for his 1989 call to execute the five teens falsely accused of rape. “They admitted their guilt.”
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman contributed to this report.