Top Dem rep: 'Grand Wizard' comment a reflection on Trump's 'racially insensitive' behavior

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesThe House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort House votes to kill impeachment effort against Trump Jeffries defends Democratic Caucus tweet slamming Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said that his calling President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE "the grand wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave." was not a literal description, but a reflection of the president's record of "racially insensitive" behavior, a record that the congressman says extends past Trump's time in the White House.

"Of course I don't believe the president is a card-carrying member of the KKK, but it did capture a troubling pattern of racially insensitive and outrageous at times behavior that spans not months, not years, but decades," Jeffries said on CNN's "New Day."

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Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, noted that he did not call Trump a racist in his comments at the National Action Network’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and that he has in the past refrained from doing so.

"[Trump] has presided over and engaged in a series of racially insensitive remarks," Jeffries said. "We cannot whitewash that. We cannot hide it. And on King Day, we should be able to have that candid discussion."

"Hopefully we’ll see better behavior," Jeffries added, expressing optimism Trump will work to unite the country.

 

Jeffries has often been a vocal and fierce critic of the president and has previously decried Trump's comments on race. Jeffries has said Trump fans the "flames of racial hatred" and has called the president a "racial arsonist."

The president has reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as "shithole countries," said "both sides" were to blame for violence at a white nationalist rally in 2017 and for many years pushed the false conspiracy theory that former President Obama was not born in the U.S.

Some progressive lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), have labeled Trump a racist, citing those comments and his immigration policies.

During his time as president, Trump has emphasized economic improvements he says have been brought to African-Americans and other minority communities during his time in the White House. He has also regularly touted how well he has done with those communities in polls.