Hoyer blasts Trump for 'racist rhetoric'
© Greg Nash

House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerMarcia Fudge under spotlight as Pelosi Speaker fight heats up Pelosi and her opponents voice confidence over Speakership battle Clyburn says some critics are using race to oppose his leadership bid MORE (D-Md.) suggested President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Obama says not always easy to live up to "we go high" Georgia certifies elections results in bitterly fought governor's race Trump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny 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 LewisPelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion Incoming Michigan Dem will not back Pelosi Marcia Fudge under spotlight as Pelosi Speaker fight heats up 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 DurbinOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year Trump’s backing may not be enough on criminal justice reform 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 NielsenTrump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny Trump signs bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: 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."