John Lewis on Trump 's---hole' comment: Racism 'must be in his DNA'

Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDespite Senate setbacks, the fight for voting rights is far from over Arizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash MORE (D-Ga.) slammed President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll We must do more to protect American Jews 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE on Friday for his comment about “shithole countries," suggesting racism “must be in his DNA.”

“I think the words and his actions tend to speak like one who knows something about being a racist,” Lewis said in an MSNBC interview. “It must be in his DNA, in his makeup, but it’s frightening to have someone in the office of the president in 2018 speaking the way that he’s speaking.”

Lewis said that the comments were “unreal” and “unbelievable,” and added that the president is “not really in tune” with the American people.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We’re one people, we’re one family, we all live in the same house,” he said. “I don’t think language like this is in keeping with the future of our country or the future of the planet.”

Lewis said that the comments were “incompatible” with Trump signing a proclamation Friday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

“You cannot speak the words of tolerance and peace and love … 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,” Lewis said.

Trump’s comments, made during a private meeting with lawmakers in reference to immigrants from Haiti and some African countries, have prompted backlash from lawmakers and world leaders.

While critics have referred to Trump’s comments about immigration in the past as being “racially charged” or “insensitive,” many from both parties are now calling the president racist

Some of the harshest criticism came from Lewis's fellow Democrats. Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs MORE (Calif.) accused Trump of “promoting a homogenous, white society” with the remarks.

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters Effort to overhaul archaic election law wins new momentum Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products MORE (D-Ill.), who was present at the Thursday meeting, confirmed the comments.

The White House initially did not deny them, but Trump tweeted Friday morning that it was “not the language used” in the meeting. Two GOP lawmakers at the meeting said they did not recall the comments.