Dem rep. slams Trump’s LaVar Ball attacks as racially motivated

A House Democrat is criticizing President Trump's attacks on LaVar Ball, the father of a UCLA basketball player who was detained in China, as racially motivated.

"He's been going after African-Americans in many, many ways and minorities generally," Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room." 

His remarks come after Trump publicly lambasted LiAngelo Ball's father, an African American man who initially downplayed the president's role in securing the release of his son from China.

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Trump in a series of tweets then called the elder Ball a "poor man's version of Don King" and an "ungrateful fool."

"It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence — IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair," the president tweeted.

The younger Ball was briefly held, along with two teammates, on shoplifting charges in China. Trump spoke to China's president on behalf of the young players while he was in the country. They were quickly released and allowed to return to the U.S.

The California lawmaker argued on CNN that Trump is exhibiting a pattern by who he targets in his attacks, saying he kicked off his 2016 presidential campaign by attacking minorities.

"In fact, he started his campaign for president going after minorities. In that case, Mexican nationals here in the United States, as well as Mexican people of Mexican origin that been here forever," Garamendi said, adding that "it goes on and on, one minority after another."

Garamendi charged that Trump continues to single out African-American groups in his attacks, pointing to his drawn out feud with NFL players who take a knee in a sign of protest. 

"Right now he's focusing on the African-Americans, obviously the football players protesting by not standing for the national anthem. Protest is a tradition in America but the president seems to be focused basically now on African-Americans, previously on others," he continued.

The White House has denied that Trump's criticism of NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem is racially motivated. 

“This has nothing to do with race. I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag,” Trump said in September.