Ocasio-Cortez says 'no question' Trump is a racist

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMarkey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan MORE (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that there is "no question" that President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE is a racist. 

The newly elected congresswoman made the comments in an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes," saying that she feels comfortable making the claim because of the words Trump uses. 

"The president certainly didn't invent racism," Ocasio-Cortez said. "But he's certainly given a voice to it and expanded it and created a platform for those things."

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Asked by moderator Anderson Cooper if she considered Trump a racist, Ocasio-Cortez responded "no question."

"How can you say that?" Cooper asked. 

"When you look at the words that he uses, which are historic dog whistles of white supremacy. When you look at how he reacted to the Charlottesville incident, where neo-Nazis murdered a woman, versus how he manufactures crises like immigrants seeking legal refuge on our borders, it's, it's night and day," Ocasio-Cortez said, adding that Trump was a "symptom" of a problem.

Trump received scrutiny in 2017 over his reaction to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly. Among other things, Trump said that "very fine people" on both sides were at the rally. 

The White House said in a statement to "60 Minutes" that Ocasio-Cortez's comments reflected "sheer ignorance."

"Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez's sheer ignorance on the matter can't cover the fact that President Trump supported and passed historic criminal justice reform ... and ... has repeatedly condemned racism and bigotry in all forms," the White House deputy press secretary said.

Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in November and is considered a rising progressive star in the Democratic Party. 

She was officially sworn in to Congress last week along with other lawmakers. Her swearing-in came amid a government shutdown that has now entered its third week. 

Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday accused GOP lawmakers of "hostage-taking" with their demands for border security in a new spending bill. 

“If the GOP wants a wall so badly, they can try to propose and pass a bill like anybody else,” she tweeted. “Instead, they are seizing gov operations + innocent people’s pay until they get what they want.”