Administration

Presidential historian: Trump now with Andrew Johnson as 'most racist president in American history'

Presidential historian Jon Meacham said Monday that President Trump's latest attacks against a group of minority congresswomen placed him alongside former President Andrew Johnson as the "most racist president in American history."

"What the president's done here is yet again, because I think he did it after Charlottesville, and I think he did it frankly when he was pushing the birther lie about President Obama, is he has joined Andrew Johnson as the most racist president in American history," Meacham, who has written biographies on past presidents Thomas Jefferson and George H.W. Bush, said on MSNBC's "Hardball."

Meacham described the 17th president's history with racism, noting that Johnson once said in a state message that "African Americans were incapable of self government and relapsed into barbarism if they weren't closely supervised."

The historian drew the parallels between Trump and Johnson one day after Trump targeted four freshman House lawmakers, saying that they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" before speaking out about how the United States government should be run. 

Trump also claimed that the progressive Democrats "came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe."

He did not identify the lawmakers in his tweet, but the comments were aimed at Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.). The four addressed the comments in a press conference on Monday. Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, is the only one among the four who was born in a foreign country.

Several Democratic lawmakers, as well as multiple GOP congressmen, have derided the comments as xenophobic and racist. House Democrats on Monday introduced a formal resolution to condemn Trump's remarks. 

Meacham, a frequent critic of Trump, said Monday that the president's remarks contradicted the "journey" of the United States. 

"It's long been said, and President Reagan said it quite well, that America is the one place on earth that is not about a birthright," he said. ''It's about the ascent to an idea, an idea that was written in one of the most important sentences ever written in the English language, that all men were created equal and were endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.

"We didn't apply that fully then. We haven't applied that fully now. But that journey toward a more perfect union is the story of the country."

Trump has stood by his remarks about the progressive Democrats, stating that the lawmakers should leave the country if they are not "happy."

"Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful," he tweeted Tuesday morning. "If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!" 

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