In a press call with the Democratic National Committee, Congressional Black Caucus Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) spoke out against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments during Monday’s first debate.
“Donald Trump, again, insulted, in my opinion, not only African Americans but all Americans when he continued and did not send an apology to the 44th President of the United States of America when he is the father of the birther initiative, which is a racist statement at its core,” Meeks said on the call. “He owes the American people an apology for doing and bringing and being the father of that issue in 2011, in 2012, in 2013, in 2014, in 2015. And clearly last night his answers surely indicates he must still believe it, because he did not convince anyone why all of the sudden he dropped that issue.”
Trump, again, last night attempted to tie his birther crusade to Clinton’s 2007 campaign, claiming “Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and close — very close friend of Secretary Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle, went to — during the campaign, her campaign against President [Barack] Obama, fought very hard. And you can go look it up, and you can check it out. And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard. She failed to get the birth certificate.”
Trump went on to say that when he took up the birther issue he “didn’t fail.” Instead, Trump used the birther issue to prove that he can get results by ensuring President Obama turned over the birth certificate. “So, I’m satisfied with it.”
Debate moderator Lester Holt attempted to fact check Trump by saying that Trump didn’t cease his movement after President Obama released his birth certificate. Instead, Trump continued the crusade well into the GOP debates last year.
Patti Solis Doyle was on hand on CNN last night to refute Trump’s accusations. She said nothing of the sort ever happened and when there was a staffer found to be promoting the “secret Muslim” narrative that person was not only fired, but Solis Doyle called then Obama campaign manager David Plouffe to personally apologize. Then-McClatchy editor also refuted Trump’s story, saying the news service never sent a reporter to Kenya to look for Obama’s birth certificate.
When it came to talking about race relations in the United States, Rep. Barbara Lee called out Trump’s vision for being laced “with racism, bigotry and lies.” Lee went on to call this year’s election a “referendum on bigotry” and called on supporters to “fight back against those who seek to divide us.”
Lee heralded Clinton’s comments on the “unfinished business in America as it relates to race.” However, “the fact that Trump responded with a ‘law and order’ response had nothing to do with the deep seeded issue of race,” Lee continued. “And where we need to go to really make sure that we have a country of liberty and justice for all. He didn’t even address that.”
When prompted to give a short statement on race, Trump immediately turned to touting “law and order,” as Lee mentioned, saying the phrase five times in just two minutes. Trump then cited his recent endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We have endorsements from, I think, almost every police group, very — I mean, a large percentage of them in the United States,” he said, prompting pundits to question whether Trump is earning police endorsements from other countries.
Lee sees Trump’s “‘law and order’ plan” to be “built upon bigotry, stereotyping and dangerous fear-mongering,” she said in a statement to Raw Story via email.
The fact that Trump was asked to talk about the issues that matter to communities of color and responded with a statement about police and “law and order” was concerning to many watching the debate. However, Lee called it a “total insult. “This response … was completely unrelated and showed his utter ignorance of the real issue regarding race in our nation,” she said.
Meeks was similarly disturbed by Trump’s narrow understanding of the African American community. “While Hillary Clinton is focused on strengthening the middle-class and bridging the racial disparities in health, wealth, and education through empowerment and unification, Trump continues to only propagate false stereotypes of black people as simply poor and helpless,” he said in a emailed statement to Raw Story.
He then turned to address the New York City policy instituted under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani called “stop and frisk,” which allows any officer to stop any person for any reason and pat them down. The practice was declared unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin in 2013. Trump maintained the practice was not declared unconstitutional. Holt attempted to correct the information, but Trump talked over him.
“No, you’re wrong,” Trump said. “It went before a judge who was a very against police judge. It was taken away from her and our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal.”
The Bloomberg administration appealed the decision and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals sent it to be tried under a new judge. The court denied the motion to vacate Judge Scheindlin’s decision and the appeals were dropped.
Lee found Trump’s instance that the law was not unconstitutional a troubling example of a candidate without “the most basic understanding of the Constitution, our legal system and the constitutional rights of Americans.”
She continued, saying that we should refrain from “rehashing failed, discriminatory policing tactics,” and instead work on “taking steps to address our broken criminal justice system. We need to diversify and demilitarize our police forces, improve training, and address the implicit and institutional biases that lead to distrust between law enforcement and communities of color,” Lee said. “These are serious issues facing our nation – we can’t afford Trump’s excuses or fear-mongering.”
Trump then went on to blame “illegal immigrants” for creating street gangs that generate even more crime. “We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants,” he said. “And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant… Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime, decimated.”
Meeks wasn’t shocked by Trump’s attacks on minorities while simultaneously claiming to be their greatest advocate.
“That Trump immediately and instinctively advocated for cracking down on minorities comes as no surprise but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing,” he said. “As if it wasn’t clear already, as a conman born with a silver spoon in his mouth and with a history of perpetuating racism, Trump lacks any understanding of the complexity of the plight facing minorities across the United States.”
Meeks went on to note that Trump’s words come just days after the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “Trump still can’t see all that our communities offer and all of the contributions minorities have made to our great nation. He’s not reaching out to minorities at all; in fact, he’s been pushing them away.”
Secretary Clinton closed the discussion about race by calling out Trump’s doom and gloom fear mongering. “I’ve heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it’s really unfortunate that he paints such a dire negative picture of black communities in our country,” Clinton responded to Trump’s apocalyptic vision.