Hoyer blasts Trump for 'racist rhetoric'
© Greg Nash

House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote on Iran war powers bills sought by progressives Khanna: Timing of Iran bill being weighed against getting bigger majority MORE (D-Md.) suggested President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE could be a "racist" on Tuesday for reportedly calling several nations "shithole countries" last week.

“If you use racist rhetoric, if you pursue policies based upon a racial premise, I consider that to be a definition of a racist," Hoyer told reporters. "The president articulates racist language and pursues policies based upon race. I think that’s the definition of a racist.”

When asked directly if he thinks Trump is a racist, Hoyer hedged his words but said the president's remarks were a telltale sign.

“I’m saying what he does is racist. Now, if what you do is racist, you certainly qualify for being a racist," Hoyer said. 

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Hoyer also endorsed a column written by Michael Gerson in The Washington Post published Monday saying Trump "incites racism as a political strategy." 

The column "expresses my views perfectly," Hoyer said.

The No. 2 House Democrat's remarks echo Rep. John LewisJohn LewisThe Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial John Lewis to miss Martin Luther King Jr. Day event On The Money: USMCA vote held up as committees review deal | Trump legislation added .7T to debt: watchdog | 97 percent of CFOs expect downturn | Trump says 'phase two' China deal could come after election MORE (D-Ga.), a former civil rights movement activist, who deemed Trump a racist last weekend and said he will not attend the president's first State of the Union address.

Trump's comments, which reportedly came during a bipartisan meeting on immigration in the White House last week, have been corroborated by Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request MORE (D-Ill.), who also attended the meeting.

Two Republican senators in the meeting said they "do not recall" the president's comments, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenActing DHS secretary says he expects Russia to attempt to interfere in 2020 elections House Homeland Security rip DHS's 'unacceptable' failure to comply with subpoena Trump puts Kushner in charge of overseeing border wall construction: report MORE said Tuesday before a Senate panel that she did not remember the president using the expletive but said it was "possible" he could have.

The president himself has denied the reports of resisting immigration from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations during the meeting, and said Tuesday that he wants immigrants from "everywhere."

Trump has also said that he did not make the comments, saying Friday that the reported comments were "not the language used."