Trump campaign adviser dismisses White House diversity question, asks about black people in Lincoln admin

Trump 2020 campaign adviser Katrina Pierson on Sunday dismissed a question about diversity within President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE's administration by asking how many black people worked in former President Lincoln's administration. 

"I’m not going to participate in the attempt to make this all about race. It's ridiculous," Pierson, who is African-American, said during an appearance on MSNBC. "How many black people were in Abraham Lincoln’s West Wing?”

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Pierson invoked Lincoln after Rev. Al Sharpton pressed her on how many black people work inside the White House. The question led to a heated exchange, with Pierson accusing Sharpton of attempting to paint the president as a racist. 

"Everything has to be made about race, reverend. ... I’m not going to participate in the attempt to continue to paint this president as racist," Pierson said.

Sharpton then asked how Trump can appeal to black voters without hiring African-Americans within his administration. Pierson replied that there are "plenty of black people working in the West Wing" before bringing up the lack of diversity inside Lincoln's White House. 

"Is Abraham Lincoln a racist because he didn't have a black person in his West Wing? This is insane. It's an insane discussion," Pierson added. 

Activist David Brock later remarked that the lack of diversity inside the White House is a stark contrast to the diverse batch of Democratic candidates running for president in 2020. 

Trump has faced widespread scrutiny from Democrats on issues related to race since he launched his 2016 campaign. Several 2020 presidential candidates, including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries The hidden connection between immigration and health care: Our long-term care crisis Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll MORE (I-Vt.), have labeled the president a racist. 

In March 2018, many on social media criticized the lack of diversity among White House interns after the administration released a photo of the mostly white class.