It was up to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to come to the defense of President Donald Trump’s attack on Rep. Elijah Cummings and his majority African-American Baltimore district on Sunday. And Mulvaney´s message was clear: Sure, Trump’s tweets may seem racist, but they aren’t. “Does the president speak hyperbolically? Absolutely. Have we seen this type of this reaction from his before? Yes,” Mulvaney said on CBS´ Face the Nation. “And you will again because he pushes back, he fights back when he feels like he’s attacked.” Ultimately though there’s nothing to do to prevent people being offended because “I understand that everything that Donald Trump says is offensive to some people,” he added.
When host Margaret Brennan pressed Mulvaney on why Trump saying that “no human being would want to live there” could be seen as racist, Mulvaney admitted he did. “I understand why but that doesn’t mean that it’s racist. The president is pushing back against what he sees as wrong. It’s how he’s done in the past and he’ll continue to do in the future,” Mulvaney said.
Pressed on the issue by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney insisted that “it has absolutely zero to do with race.” Mulvaney said Trump had criticized Cummings because of his attack on conditions at the border, and he would have done the same to any other lawmaker who would have voiced similar criticism. “If I had poverty in my district like they have in Baltimore, if I had crime in my district like they have in Chicago, if I had homelessness in my district like they have in San Francisco, and I spent all of my time in Washington, D.C., chasing down this Mueller investigation, this bizarre impeachment crusade, I’d get fired,” Mulvaney said.
When Wallace noted that Trump seems to have a fondness for using the word “infested” to refer to minority lawmakers, Mulvaney dismissed it as a forced analysis. “Infested.
It sounds like vermin. It sounds subhuman. And these are all six members of Congress who are people of color,” Wallace said. Mulvaney pushed back and accused Wallace of “spending way too much time reading between the lines.” Wallace shot back: “I’m not reading between the lines. I’m reading the lines.”
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus